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  • The Errors Found in Various Church Denominations (Various Protestant, Catholic, Etc)

    ARTICLE INDEX     

  • Protestant
  • Catholic
  • Orthodox


  • Before we get into analysis of various sects of Christianity, I wanted to briefly point out that I am a Protestant, who is marrying a Catholic and who's best friend is Greek Orthodox (ex-Protestant). I have also attended several protestant churches for more than a year each and have thoroughly studied many Church Denominations and I am well acquainted with many of the larger ones.

    The reason I am writing this is to shed light on various errors I have seen in different Christian Church Structures. I am not here to condemn anyone. I am not like some who love to point out errors and then condemn those with the errors. I am also not here to point to any one church and say "This is the true church". Frankly, most of those who judge in such a way have only done enough studies to "prove themselves correct", rather than taking an unbiased approach to the whole subject matter.

    I have been a part of various Baptist churches for about three years total, Assembly of God for about three years total, Methodist for about fifteen years total, Holiness for about ten years total, Charismatic for a couple years total, Nazarene for about two years total and I have attended several other types of churches for a couple of services (Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal Holiness, etc). I have also studied many I have not been to (Seventh Day Adventist, Mennonite, etc).

    The reason I am telling you all of this is so you know, I am not just making declarations "off the cuff" here. I have actually been to and studied many different Christian Denominations. And in this article, I just would like to point out some main, what I call "significant" errors in each one. We are not talking heresy hunting here. I am referring to just plain misunderstandings of scripture's intended meaning or just lack of perspective. I don't want to get into trifling debates or exchanges, but just "hit the nail on the head" so to say.

    The Protestant Church

    Being a Protestant for all of my life, I have seen a few things that are "glaringly wrong" in the Protestant Church. This does not refer to everyone in the Protestant Church, but just a significant fraction of it.

    First thing that I noticed, about six years ago, was the lack of perspective that many in the Protestant Church have regarding the Early Church Fathers. After actually reading a decent amount of the Early Church Fathers' beliefs, I found that very few Protestants know much about them. Further, some Protestants assume that they are a reflection of the early church with little knowledge of what they were actually like.

    Generally, you have a few different perspectives when it comes to this topic and most of them are in error. First, you have the Catholic Vs Protestant approach, where the Protestant says there was two churches throughout history. The true (i.e. ~ Protestant church) and the false (i.e. ~ Catholic church) and then proclaim that we are a representation of the early church and that the Catholic Church is the anti-Christ's false church. This is built on some of the ideas of early Protestant writers such as John Owen. However, the problem with this viewpoint is that the Protestant/Catholic Split was in 1517 AD, which resulted in multiple Protestant churches shortly thereafter (Lutheran, Calvinist and Presbyterian, etc) due to disagreements within their own ranks. So, it was after 1500 years we see this split and most Christians do not even realize, there was a split prior to this between the Orthodox and Catholic church in 1054 AD. Why didn't the Protestant church join the Orthodox Church after the split and why did the Protestant Movement have so many internal disagreements which resulted in the myriad of denominations we see today? So, it was not two churches throughout time fighting (one of Christ and one of the Antichrist). Rather, there was one church at first, and then it progressed with various sections going into error and those within the church not properly addressing it. As a result, some of the Catholic church did indeed appear very bad in various sectors, particularly Rome and London. It was more a corrupt power struggle among the greedy and finding ways to make more money (indulgences) rather than seeking Christ and living for Him. Turning the church into something that can be controlled and relied on for power and money. Yet, to say the Protestant church did not also have its errors is quite ridiculous. It can also be demonstrated that the Protestant church started to take on some of this greed and power once they gained some traction.

    The problem with the Protestant Church today is it lost its roots. It does not know who it is. It cannot trace itself properly back to the early church and its doctrines do not entirely relate to the early church. Its claim is the Bible, but even there, we find a problem. They reject the Deuterocanonicals. Even Jesus used the Deuterocanonicals when he walked the Earth, via the Greek Septuagint, which was sort of the King James Bible of Jesus' time. The Septuagint was already around for more than two hundred years and was well revered during Jesus' time on Earth. He and the Apostles used the Septuagint according to a few very early church fathers.

    In reality, the Protestant church in some aspects made itself as an anti-mirror to the Catholic Church. This is where the Protestant Church crept into error. The reason why we do not have the Deuterocanonicals in the Protestant Bible is not because they were added by Catholics. No, to the contrary, it is because the Catholics had it, that it must be in error. The claim that they added them is incorrect. They were just officially added in 1500's, though, it had already been in the Bible since 270 AD (Books found in the Septuagint). It was not that by its own merits that it was found to be in error. And so, we find this same type of logic based on emotion with many other things within the Protestant church.

    Another example: Calvinism. Calvinism is actually just anti-Catholic dogma. It is not an unbiased theological paradigm developed off "sola scriptura". It is actually just "anti-Catholicism", due to the opposite nature it takes to even the very earliest Christian fathers in the church. Only St. Augustine can be pointed to as being "pseudo-Calvinistic". Prior to St. Augustine, Calvinism did not exist. And if you know much about St. Augustine, you discover he was very unbiblical in many of his viewpoints. Take for example abortion (pro abortion for first 90 days as the fetus has no soul, based of Plato's philosophy), or sex (very anti-sex, like the Manichean Gnostic sect he came from before becoming a Christian), etc. You can see his influence on the church through the often critical and anti-sex nature of many conservative theologies within Christianity, most of which have root in St. Augustine's teaching and struggles.

    I believe the problem was protestants were to into "protesting" and had such a fixation on being against the Catholic church that their formation and root stems more from being anti-Catholic, rather than early church. You can find some within the Protestant movement which were attempting to reconnect with the roots of the Early Fathers. However, I believe it was the anti-Calvinistic nature of the earliest Christian teachers that turned off many Protestants from seeking to fully reconnect with the early church. And why are there divisions within Protestantism? It says in James 4, it is a result of our evil desires that we have factions and dissent. I do not believe the divisions you see in the Protestant Church were a good thing and just pointed to an error they did not deal with.

    This is why so few within the Protestant Church have any clue regarding Church history or theology before Luther (save those favorites that seem to relate, such as St. Augustine).

    Even the way Protestants define Heaven and Hell is very anti-Catholic. It is not "sola scriptura", but a reaction to Catholic dogma. Let me explain: Heaven and Hell as defined by the earliest in the Christian church (50 - 300 AD) included an intermediate state, which was Sheol/Hades (place of the dead) where one waited until the Judgment Seat of Christ, from which you are judged to either enter Heaven or the Lake of Fire. Where did the Catholic Church sway from this? What happened is the Catholic church started attempting to explain every aspect of Heaven and Hell, which led them into various errors. They came up with the doctrine of Purgatory and Limbo to better explain Heaven and Hell, neither of which can be proven with scripture. However, their initial foundation of Heaven and Hell was correct, yet protestants altogether threw off not only the Purgatory and Limbo, but even the early church's concept of Heaven and Hell and came up with their own erred idea of Heaven and Hell (i.e. ~ Threw off the "Intermediate State" and declared that when one dies, you are judged and are transfered to either Heaven or Hell. As Paradise (the intermediate state for good people) was already transferred to real Heaven, according to Protestantism), yet this is also not provable with scripture, just as the concept of Limbo and Purgatory are not either.

    I believe the reason it is so difficult for Protestants to see these errors is because they use their own English translations, which have been translated to fit Protestant dogma. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph regarding Heaven and Hell, I did my own studies in the original Greek and discovered some of these problems with some English Bibles. Actually, there have been translations that have attempted to solve the problem by naming the Greek words rather than the common English ones (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, rather than "Hell"). The problem, though, is terminology and the theological spider web imbedded in Protestant ideology which makes it difficult to see the truth, without doing a lot of studies in the Bible's original languages and interpretations.

    The Catholic Church

    With the Catholic Church, the biggest error I see is their slight changes from the original doctrines found in the early church. In some cases, its not really a change, but more a control aspect to it. In other cases, over compensation in direct opposition to heresy. And last, some changes seem almost as if they were highly intelligent additions or changes to accommodate certain cultures or to play on certain mindsets. The Orthodox indeed have a large point in this area, as the Orthodox has done a much better job keeping their doctrine sound through the two millenniums of the Church.

    Now, maybe you will totally disagree with this assertion, but I do believe church history and church structure backs up my assertions. Back in 1054 when the Catholic and Orthodox Church split, you could see two different styles or approaches to interpreting scripture. With the Catholic side, we would call this the "West side" of the church, or Latin church. even back 700 years before this, you could see that even the early church fathers from the Latin side of the church did not think the same as the Orthodox (East side) of the church.

    The Catholic church, and even its daughter the Protestant church, have a thing for wanting to be precise and having "everything" explained. They wanted perfect control, but in actuality lost perfect control by trying to explain everything and control everything.

    Let me explain. The Orthodox would leave some things mysteries and would leave a balance of powers within their Bishops' ranks to avoid any error or corruptions. So if one Bishop got off track, the others would correct him or get rid of him. The Orthodox also did not need to explain everything fully, such as Heaven and Hell and kept a more balanced approach to core doctrine. This is how they avoided sharp disagreement on trifling things.

    So, such things as Heaven and Hell, baptism, etc had root in the original early church doctrine, but had been added to and modified slightly over time after many years of commentators, church edicts, etc. Since the Catholic church wanted more power, Rome's Bishop attempted to take control of the church. This is where we have the power struggle and doctrinal issues that led to the division in 1054 between the East and West Churches. Since St Peter was considered the head of the church (on this rock, I shall build my church), Rome's Bishop theologically believed he had direct succession from St. Peter. And as a result, was considered preeminant among the Bishops. At first, this just was a title more than any power difference. However, over time, the Roman Bishop started to claim power over the other Bishops, which led to this split within the church. It should be obvious, though, that St Peter was not from Rome, so how is it the Roman Bishop just assumed he was the only direct succession from him. Could not all the Bishop's claim succession from St Peter?

    After the split, the Roman Bishop had full control of the Western (Catholic) Church and was able to change doctrines as he pleased. This is where marriages of priests were annulled and priests were forbidden to marry. This seems to be a fulfillment of Apostle Paul's prophecy in 1 Timothy 4 Being a Bishop with no one keeping him in check, like you see in the Orthodox church, you find the Catholic church changing views and doctrines over time and skewing them. Several large theological changes occurred after this split with the Orthodox Church.

    After 500 years of these alterations and supreme control by one Bishop, we find the Protestants (or those who were Catholic and seeing error within the church) making complaints. And most of these complaints were very legitimate. Luther's 95 Theses does not even cover all that was wrong in the church and still panders to the Pope (Roman Bishop), showing just how the mindset and control was at that time period.

    Even the Catholic Church acknowledged many of the complaints as some were a stench when made known. Even the Catholic church resolved 30% of the "Protesters" complaints. But when all of the complaints were not addressed, we see another split within the church and the Protestant Church was born.

    So, the main error I see in the Catholic Church is divergence from their roots and allowing one man to have unrestrained control over their church.

    The Orthodox Church

    With the Orthodox Church, you have the best resemblance to early church teaching. Yet, this does not mean the Orthodox Church is free of all error. I would say they are the best preserved in the original Apostles teaching, though some Protestant Churches have made good strides to reach this. The problem is in the Protestant church, you have to convince people to agree with you. Within the Orthodox Church, they have a balance of powers and tradition that allows for perfect preservation of their dogma throughout time.

    Their structure is based on a similar structure found within the United States Government, namely a "Balance of Powers". They have a certain amount of Bishops who have equal power. And if one gets out of line, the others correct him or relieve him of his office. This way, doctrine is preserved. They also have a mass structure, which is very solid and controlled and they do not try to get into explaining everything and "setting in stone" every jot and tittle of thought within scripture. This helps them to avoid division and strife over trifling issues.

    This allows for a very strong core design. Yet, I believe the error comes in that they lack in other areas. They do not seem very "up with the times" and have difficulties reaching the community around them.

    I believe the Protestants probably have the best design for reaching out to people and seem the most "up with the times". And, honestly, the Catholic seem to have the best ability to work with secular governments to accomplish their agendas. If maybe all three churches could put aside their differences and work together, they would be able to accomplish a great amount in this world.

    If the Pope would relinquish his total control over the Western church and agreed to work with the Orthodox and other Bishops within the Catholic church as equals, and returned to a more basic core doctrine and forsook the need to explain every doctrine to perfection, they could come to some agreement and work together. Further, if the Protestant church could rediscover its roots and focused more on the original languages of the Bible and the earliest church teaching, they could come to core agreement with the Orthodox Church and would be able to unite as well.

    Some of the errors I have seen within the Orthdox Church are more a result of them attempting to be too careful with doctrine. Sounds odd, but one example is that no Bishop is married within the Orthodox Church, though you do find the occassional Priest who is married within the church.

    The reason you do not find any Bishops married and only a few Priests married is because of their approach to theology. With the Apostle Paul's commands to Deacons and Bishops we find the scripture to say that a Bishop is "to be husband to one wife". They read this as a prohibition against polygamy, rather than a commandment for the Bishop to be married.

    As a result of their belief that it is to stear Bishops away from polygamy, they go a step further and only allow non-married men to become Bishops. So, you can see an over cautiousness with their approach to the Bible passage.

    You also see rigidness with how they view Communion and also Apostolic Succession. They take a very traditional rigid approach, only allowing those they know who are Orthodox to take Communion (not a bad idea, but not exactly perfect either). Also, with Apostolic Succession, we see their belief that only a Bishop of the Original Church can lead a church, so they claim that the Protestant church does not have such a Bishop (as there were no Protesting Bishops which left the Catholic Church to start the Protestant Church). Yet, this is faulty logic, if one looks at the earliest church fathers, as I have done here.

    There are a few other things I think are odd and seem borderline unscriptural, but often it is a result of them being too careful with God's Word or allowing tradition to have too much free reign. Yet, one should not be so careful, as to violate other principles found in scripture.







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