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  • Church's Long Standing War With
    Gnosticism and Other Philosophies:

    ARTICLE INDEX     

  • Apostolic Succession
  • Baptism
  • Heaven and Hell
  • Marriage / Sex
  • Trinity / Godhead


  • Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

    From the beginning, Gnosticism was creating derision within the Church, churning out false interpretations of the Holy Bible. The apostles who wrote the New Testament Epistles spoke against Gnosticism & other vain philosophies regularly, refuting the errors created by Gnostic and Stoic leaders. Most of the Church's effort was spent on explaining who God exactly is and His attributes. Less stress was put on doctrines which fall outside the essentials. As the Gnostics would spend much of their time seeking knowledge and concepts about God and as a result, making many false understandings and concepts regarding God. The Gnostics would also apply their understanding of the world and God to doctrines and concepts found within scripture, perverting their meaning. The Trinity doctrine, along with others, were formed to actually counteract all the odd ideas and concepts created by Gnostics.

    Such important teachings as the eucharist, the afterlife, marriage/sex, and others were under attack regularly by Gnostics and other philosophers. As they had a philosophical foundation in Dualism, which looked at the flesh as evil and the spirit as good. So all physical substances, ideas, pleasures, etc were considered evil. As a result, they believed Jesus could not have been physically ressurrected, that eucharist was not the body of Christ (not same as transubstantiation, but rather denial of the value of communion altogether, because it is physical bread spirtually representing Christ's Body) and that all physical desire was evil in nature. All of these concepts, theories and adaptations were a result of their belief that demons created the world (rather than God).

    We see Paul warning of such false teaching in 1 Timothy 4 regarding marriage and meats (both institutions with physical benefits, which Dualistic philosophy considered evil). Even though Paul drew loosely on concepts similar to Dualism (works of the flesh, fruits of the Spirit), we discover he also rebuked many false Gnostic ideas. So Paul was known for drawing similarities to concepts found within the world and philosophy, but then correcting its error in understanding, to show how Christianity differed.

    Other concepts within Gnostic, Stoic and other vain philosophies also were creeping into the church.

    These philosophies were problematic for a few reasons.

    • First, Gnostic philosophy was coming into prevalence around the time of Jesus' ministry. And ironically, it seemed to have a lot of conceptual ideas that worked well with the concept of the LOGOS (Christ) coming to Earth to save us from ourselves.

    • So, John took advantage of this and pointed out how Christ was the "True Logos". Not the false logos corrupted by Gnosticism, but rather the true logos as revealed in the Old Testament. So, early Christians pointed out how the Gnostics were seeking something kind of close to the truth, but with error, and then presented them with the Gospel of Christ.

    • However, once many Gnostics accepted the Gospel, wolves in sheep's clothing came into the church, spreading Gnostic and Stoic thought within the church.

    • As a result, we find Paul and other New Testament writers fighting these errors created by Gnostics who were "in the church, but not of it".

    • A lot of these concepts dealt with the nature of God and Gnostics seeking concepts of explaining who Christ was, the Father was, Holy Spirit, etc. As a result, they made many false concepts of God, which were deemed heresies by the early church and fought vehemently. These false concepts of God also led to false theological conclusions on other doctrines as well, which also functioned in the same way, spreading like a disease within the church.

    • This does not include other concepts and beliefs that crept their way into Christian theology (even from its inception 2000 years ago) , which have been difficult to root out, due to popular opinion and philosophy of the time.

    • I believe the KEY to solving all these problems is to study both the Old and New Testament in their original languages and to understand why the Epistles were written and what they were counteracting.

    The point of this article is to show how the Devil has been working against the church through false concepts and philosophy, perverting the scriptures. It is as we see in the Garden of Eden. Matter of fact, the popular prosperity preachers on TV and Mormonism are based off the first lie found in the Garden of Eden (Mormonism and Prosperity Gospel - you shall become gods). The Devil knows full well what the scriptures say. So, his goal is to confuse people with erred understanding (as he is the author of confusion).

    Since Gnosticism, Stoicism and other vain philosophies have been the main problems for Chrisianity since its inception, it seems wise to study how these philosophies influence the church today and throughout time. So, you can see, where error truly lies within various churches, religious organizations and theological concepts around you.

    Errors Found within the Church (today and in the past):

    APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION

    Within all three branches of Christianity you find a lot of disagreement regarding the topic of apostolic succession. And you find each side accusing the other of corrupting or perverting early church teaching. However, who is right? Is the Catholic right in claiming they have true apostolic succession, assuming the Bishop of Rome has preeminence? Or is the Orthodox correct in saying the Catholic was under the Bishop of Rome, which was cut off from the true church (along with the Protestants)? Or perhaps the Protestant is right in saying that apostolic succession is not relevant for today and is a perversion of the scriptures?

    Well, lets see what some of the earliest of church fathers had to say:

    "In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same life-giving faith, which has been preserved in the church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth." - Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.416

    "In the ordinations of priests, we should choose no one but unstained and upright ministers. In that way, the ministers who offer sacrifices to God with holy and worthy hands may be heard in the prayers that they make for the safety of the Lord's people.... On this account, a people obedient to the Lord's commandments, and fearing God, should separate themselves from a sinful prelate. They should not associate themselves with the sacrifices of the sacrilegious priest. This is especially so since they themselves have the power of either choosing worthy priests or of rejecting unworthy ones." - Cyprian (c. 250 W), 5.370

    "When we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, which is preserved by means of the successions of presbyters in the churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but than even the apostles." - Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.415

    Well, it appears, apostolic succession does have relevance. However, note the difference between the statements above, and the common claim that if you are not Orthodox or Catholic, you do not have any right to claim to be a church. As many Orthodox approach it saying that if you have no Bishop that was ordained by a previous Bishop from the original line, you are no Church of God (refering to Protestants, seeing it was priests who separated from the Catholic church rather than Bishops).

    However, note above how Cyprian states that if a minister is evil, you should separate yourself from such a man, and should then choose a another minister, as the church has the power to do so. This contradicts what many Orthodox and Catholics teach. Which plays into my theory that God views all three branches of Christianity as His Bride (Church), each having legitimate Apostolic Succession, though they are divided. This doesn't mean that all ministers are worthy of God within these three branches. And it does not infer that each is living for Christ with perfection in doctrine. Further, certain groups within these three branches of Christianity have shown themselves not worthy of Christ's name.

    "Let the heretics contrive something of the same kind [i.e. ~ a list of episcopal succession back to the apostles]... However, even if they were to produce such a contrivance, they will not advance even one step. For when their very doctrine is compared with that of the apostles, its own diversity and discrepancy proves that it had neither an apostle nor an apostolic man for its authorship." - Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.258

    Gnostics also claimed apostolic succession, however their doctrine does not reflect the New Testament Apostles' teaching. So, such a church which claims succession, yet does not have the doctrine of God, we know their succession to be irrelevant.

    I tend to consider the Orthodox church the most preserved within its apostolic roots. However, we can not infer that the other two branches do not contain equally the Church of God. It can be said, some groups within these branches of Christendom do not uphold the doctrine of the Apostles. And with such a church group, it should not be recognized as Christian, but rather a cult.

    BAPTISM

    "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" - Acts 2:38

    "For many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." - Galatians 3:27

    "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." - Acts 22:16

    "This is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.)" - 1 Peter 3:21

    We can see in the above passages that salvation is connected to the practice of Baptism. The question is if Baptism is a requirement for salvation, an obedience to salvation by faith, or not necessary at all?

    Now, let us look to some of the very early church fathers for their thoughts:

    "This washing of repentance and knowledge of God has been ordained on account of the transgression of God's people, as Isaiah cries. Accordingly, we have believed and testify that the very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented. And this is the water of life.... For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses only the flesh and body? Baptize the soul from wrath and from covetousness, from envy, and from hatred." - Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.201

    "When we come to refute them [the Gnostics], we will show in its proper place that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God. Thus, they have renounced the whole faith.... For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins." - Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.346

    "When [do we bear] the image of the heavenly? Doubtless when he says, 'You have been washed,' believing in the name of the Lord, and receiving His Spirit." - Irenaeus (c. 180 E/W), 1.537

    "One is not born by the imposition of hands when he receives the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is in baptism. Thereafter, being already born, he may receive the Holy Spirit" - Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.388

    I have read about 20 or so quotes from the early fathers and see sort of the pattern of their thoughts. With Irenaeus, he completely ties baptism to the salvation process, and believes that neither can be separated (i.e. ~ Christ died for our sins, we accept the gospel and are spiritually transfered from death to life and washed of our sins). He sees the baptism as the spiritual washing of the believer, to remove his former sins. Not the physical act of removing filth from your body, but rather spiritual regeneration by God (hence, it is not your work, but God's work in the process of baptism from death to life). With Cyprian, he seems to see one as a Christian prior to baptism, however, believes that a Christian receives the Holy Ghost when they are baptized (completing the process of spiritual regeneration). I have also skimmed many other viewpoints of the early fathers before 300 AD and many seem to hold the idea that baptism is similar to the womb (water contained in the womb) and that this God washes you spiritually of your sin, while repentance and faith is what brings your heart to the right place to become a Christian and Christ's death on the cross is what pays for your sin.

    Regarding the Protestant and Catholic argument over this topic, I believe you can see this same pattern of "adding" and "taking away" from scripture. The Catholic tends to add, in that some declare that the physical baptism is required for salvation, when in actuality it is not the physical baptism, but the spirtual aspect of God washing you of your sins, while you are being physically baptised. Further, repentence, is not the same as penance, because a priest is not required for inner repentance. On the Protestant side, you see some taking away from the scriptures, by declaring baptism as entirely separate from the salvation process, saying only "faith" is required for salvation. Yet, faith and baptism understood correctly can save you, just as scripture states. However, a dead faith that produces no works can not save you. A disobedient servant proves he is no servant at all. So, if you truly believe you are saved only by faith, it is the faith that includes repentance and will have a spiritual washing by God (whether you are able to get baptised in this life or not, you are to obey God, rather than man).

    "It makes no difference whether the man is washed in a sea or a pool, a stream or a fountain, a lake or a trough.... All waters... attain the sacramental power of sanctification." - Tertullian (c. 198, W), 3.670, 671

    Regarding the mode of operation, it appears many seem to not see as much relevance in whether it is in a sea, a bath, dumped on the head, etc, as long as it is water and the person's heart is right (could site about 10 quotes, but I do not have the space). I even saw one from around 200 AD saying to pour water 3 times on the head, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. So, it does not appear to be relevant whether the person is submerged or just has water put on their head.

    From what I can see here, the early fathers did not separate salvation from baptism. This is something I came to realize long ago, however, it does not imply that a physical act saves you. Rather salvation is by grace, through faith, yet in an act of obedience, you submit to baptism and God washes you spirtually of your sins with Christ's death on the cross as atonement for your sins. So, it is not your work, but God's work through the process that completes the regeneration and it goes hand in hand with the gospel. So, Christ's death on the cross paid the debt of your sins and you were raised from death to life, spiritually being washed by God.

    So, some Catholics say salvation is through Christ's death on the cross, which pays for your sins up to that point of becoming Catholic with the sacrament of baptism being the point of accepting the faith. Yet, Christ paid for all sins on the cross, and the baptism that saves is not a physical work of your own, but rather is the spiritual side where God regenerates you. Protestants reject this Catholic line of thinking and sometimes goto far to the opposite extreme. In that, they marginalize Baptism and the sacrament of communion. Some Catholics take communion to far to be God's physical body and blood and saying this act saves you. Many Protestants say its just a symbolic act, and miss that God is spiritually present in the communion. So, we see perversion in both systems, if one is not careful. Jesus' death on the cross is the only payment for your sin, not any work of your own. Yet, it does not follow that you don't need to observe Christ's commands or the sacraments, or that God does not spiritually manifest in baptism and communion.

    Now, what does one say when a person dies without baptism, yet has living faith in Christ? Perhaps St. Thomas Aquinas' solution to this theological paradox is in order:

    "Augustine says (Super Levit. lxxxiv) that "some have received the invisible sanctification without visible sacraments, and to their profit; but though it is possible to have the visible sanctification, consisting in a visible sacrament, without the invisible sanctification, it will be to no profit." Since, therefore, the sacrament of Baptism pertains to the visible sanctification, it seems that a man can obtain salvation without the sacrament of Baptism, by means of the invisible sanctification. " - St. Augustine, Summa Theologica, Q. 68, Article 2

    So one can be washed spiritually without baptism, however, it is only in cases where the person is not aware of the relevance of baptism before death or is not able to do so before he dies. It is not an excuse to avoid baptism and certainly not a means to minimize baptism in preaching.

    HEAVEN AND HELL

    The error found with many gnostic groups in the early church, actually seems quite similar to the error we find in many churches today, regarding the theology of Heaven and Hell.

    "You may have fallen in with some [Gnostics] who are called Christians. However, they do not admit this [intermediate state], and they venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham.. They say there is no ressurection of the dead. Rather, they say that when they die, their souls are taken to Heaven. Do not imagine that they are Christians." - Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.239.

    "[The Gnostics] are in all points inconsistent with themselves when they declare that all souls do not enter into the intermediate place, but only those of the righteous." - Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.403.

    The main error of the Gnostics was denying that there was an intermediate state (Sheol/Hades) between the time of death and our final destination (Heaven or the Lake of Fire). In other words, the Bible does not say you are immediately transfered to either Heaven or Hell. Rather, you are asleep (figuratively) in the place of dead (Sheol/Hades) and are awaiting for the Day of Judgement, when all will be ressurrected to stand before God. Peter eludes to souls being saved while in Hades (1 Peter 3:19 - "By which also he[Jesus] went and preached unto the spirits in prison"). So, it appears that many will be saved from Judgement in the afterlife. When the time of Judgement comes, those who are believers in Christ will then enter Heaven, while those who are not found in the Book of Life will be put into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is God's presence, love and holiness (not some vindictive action, but corrective punishment). However, the question of what Hell is exactly revolves around the term "aion", which is translated often "an age", yet when it comes to the Afterlife, it is automatically translated "eternity" by most Protestants and Catholics. This is a result of St. Augustine's interpretation of Hell being forced onto the definition of "aion" when it comes to the topic of Hell. One could also translate it to says "age long fire", rather than "eternal fire", or "age long discipline", rather than "eternal torment". So, there is the potential of Hell being used as a corrective tool, sort of like prison in today's society. Also, there is the question of whether or not after this punishment if many could be saved and also if some are annhilated. I discuss all of this here. However, being in God's presence without being regenerated is a form of punishment (maybe mental and not physical) for the non-believer. For the sinner, who has all his sin exposed and brought forth before God and his rejection of God, will cause shame and desire to be away from God, which means death, as no life exists outside of God.

    Today, we find a very similar error within various Protestant and Catholic churches. However, it is not entirely the same as the Gnostic error. Protestants do not deny the ressurrection, however they do not seem to realize, there is an intermediate state, atleast at face value. Some may think, I goto heaven when I die and then, later, God judges all and believers enter into the New Heaven. So, their thinking is partially correct, but missing some understanding. With Catholics, you also find that many believe you goto Heaven or Hell when you die, similar to Protestant theology. Again, we see a terminology and conceptual error, more than a doctrinal error. The Gnostics deny altogether the ressurrection of the dead, so their error is much greater. Regarding the idea of purgatory, it likely has its roots in the belief of the "Intermediate State", yet it has some significant errors. One main error is the belief that "people can work off their sins" in purgatory. So, its a theory that was perverted over time.

    "Under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why the men had been slain.... Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out." - 2 Maccabees 12:40-42

    "As often as the anniversary comes around, we make oblations for the dead as birthday honors." - Tertullian (c. 211, W), 3.94

    Likely the theory of purgatory started as a "What if". What if people could repent of their sins in Sheol/Hades (place of the dead)? If they could repent, maybe they could accept the Gospel in such a place? It does say Jesus preached to the spirits in prison (in HADES). Of course, this is just a "what if". This is where the idea of "praying for the dead" came about. As there is some potential that people could repent in this Intermediate State, while waiting for the judgement. Of course, people in Hades are in pain, such as seen in Jesus' Parable about Lazarus and the Rich man. But, with the concept of purgatory, we see a very grievious error in that it says people can "work off their sins" there. Our works or punishment, could not work off any sins. Only by grace, through faith could one reach repentance and come to Christ and be saved. So, could someone repent in HADES? I am not sure, but this is where the concept of praying for the dead originated. With the way God deals with people, it is possible God could give such grace, as he is very patient and loving towards His creation.

    "There is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, unless it believes while it is still in the flesh. For it is an established truth that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges." - Tertullian (c. 210, W), 3.94

    "You cruelly break up our meetings, in which prayer is made to the Supreme God and in which peace and pardon are asked for all those in authority - for soldiers, kings, friends, and enemies, for those still in life and for those who are freed from the bondage of the flesh." - Arnobius (c. 305, E), 6.488.

    In Heaven, we are not spirits floating around as some believe, but rather flesh and bones. God restores everything back to his original plan, yet with our new glorious and incorruptable bodies. As our old bodies are destroyed, so also the old Earth is destroyed, to make room for the New Earth and our new bodies. The idea of us just being spirit in nature is gnostic in origin.

    So the New Heavens, New Earth and New Jerusalem are very real and physical in nature. They are not some spiritual manifestation only, as God created also the physical and redeems all in the end.

    So, do we Christians continuously worship God in this final Heaven as some think this passage here seems to say? No, as all our activities are praise unto God. As scripture says we will bring our works before the Lord. Also, this passage here says we will dine with God in Heaven. So, likely, we will be doing very similar activities as we currently do on Earth, yet without the element of sin. So participating in worship, sports, fellowship, hobbies, seeing new places, visiting friends and relatives, etc will be among the many activities found in Heaven.

    Last, is there time in Heaven? Yes, of course, as there is even mention of time in a various passages, while things are occuring in Heaven. So, Heaven is decidedly physical in nature and not some spiritual place, but the restoration of God's original plan for mankind.

    So, even today, we see gnosticism influencing Christian thought, as most churches have lost atleast part of the conceptual understanding of Paradise and Hades and further the understanding of our final dwelling place: Heaven.

    For a detailed study on the afterlife, click here.

    MARRIAGE / SEX

    "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." - Genesis 1:28

    We also find current popular thought influencing the understanding of love, sex and marriage. In that dualism teaches the flesh is evil, hence all sex is evil (though, there were two schools of thought on how to live in light of these beliefs). Food can be a form of evil as well (as it is fleshly). Any type of physical pleasure is condemned, as Dualistic philosophies teach that demons created the world and it does not represent the "truth" found in the spiritual world. Since, marriage and sex were not topics as relevant as God's nature, they often fell by the wayside when discussed by teachers of God. Further, many Christian teachers throughout history took up these false concepts regarding physical pleasure themselves, though they were more careful with God's nature.

    Unfortunately with this topic, we find very few quotes regarding sex, marriage and procreation. Most of the quotes I could find are from Tertullian, who later became a heretic. So, like Tertullian and some others were succombing to the vain philosophies of their day (Gnostic Dualism, Stoic ideals and Platonism). However, not all of the fathers thought so negatively about sex (Theophilus of Antioch seems to think more biblically than many of the other fathers).

    Interestingly, Theophilus of Antioch spent a great deal of time working against the Marcion heresy. This could be the reason why he was more biblical when it came to the topic of sex and marriage. As the heresy he was fighting claimed that the God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New Testament. One can infer that Theophilus likely studied a great deal of the Old Testament to prove that it is the very same God from the Old to the New Testament. Such Old Testament studies on the harmony of scripture would only lead Theophilus to a greater understanding of many important topics within both Testaments of the Bible.

    From what I can tell, there is only one or two comments within the first 100 years after the apostles. Which is sort of an approach similar to Jesus (not seen as a necessary topic to comment about). Those who do comment after 200 AD, tend to be more negative than positive and as time goes on the restrictions become greater and more pronounced. This predominantly negative approach towards sex and marriage among the fathers has endured within the church ever since.

    Here is one of only four quotes I could find before 200 AD (the other quote from Athenagoras says the same basic thing as the first quote below):

    "We Christians marry only to produce children." - Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.172

    "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not commit pederasty (sex with boys)." - Didache (c. 80-140, E), 7.377

    "And concerning chastity, the holy word teaches us not only not to sin in act, but not even in thought, not even in the heart to think of any evil, nor look on another man’s wife with our eyes to lust after her. Solomon, accordingly, who was a king and a prophet, said: “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee: make straight paths for your feet.” - Prov. iv. 25.

    And the voice of the Gospel teaches still more urgently concerning chastity, saying: “Whosoever looketh on a woman who is another's wife, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” - Matt. v. 28." - Theophilus to Autolycus, B III, Ch 3, on Chastity (180 AD)

    Early on, Tertullian seemed to be a bit more positive about sex and marriage:

    "He bestowed His blessing on matrimony also, as on an honorable estate, for the increase of the human race - just as He did likewise as to the entirety of His creation, for wholesome and good uses." - Tertullian c. 207, W), 3.294

    However, later on (before he became a heretic), we see him become more negative about sex:

    "The extremity of the times has canceled the command, "Grow and multiply" For the apostle gives another command, 'It remains that those who have wives so be as if they did not,' because the time is short." - Tertullian (c. 212 W), 4.64

    We see some of the same ascretic ideals within Clement of Alexandria:

    "Since pleasure and lust seem to fall under marriage, it must also be addressed. Marriage is the first union of man and woman for the procreation of legitimate children." - Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.503

    "To such a spiritual man, after conception, his wife is as a sister and is treated as if of the same father." - Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.503

    Some odd quotes from the early fathers, which seem less restrictive than the ones seen above:

    "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not commit pederasty (sex with boys)." - Didache (c. 80-140, E), 7.377

    "They do not abstain even from males, males with males committing shocking abominations, outraging all the noblest and comeliest bodies in all sorts of ways." - Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.143

    "Show me yourself whether you are not an adulterer, a fornicator, a theif, a robber, or a thief. Show me that you do not corrupt boys.... For God is not manifest to those who do these things." - Theophilus (c. 180, E), 2.89

    "Men play the part of women, and women that of men, contrary to nature. Women are at once both wives and husbands... O miserable spectacle! Horrible conduct!" - Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.276

    Polygamy clashed with Roman monogamy at the time of the early church:

    "When the Christian Church came into being, polygamy was still practiced by the Jews. It is true that we find no references to it in the New Testament; and from this some have inferred that it must have fallen into disuse, and that at the time of our Lord the Jewish people had become monogamous. But the conclusion appears to be unwarranted. Josephus in two places speaks of polygamy as a recognized institution: and Justin Martyr makes it a matter of reproach to Trypho that the Jewish teachers permitted a man to have several wives. Indeed when in 212 A.D. the lex Antoniana de civitate gave the rights of Roman Citizenship to great numbers of Jews, it was found necessary to tolerate polygamy among them, even when though it was against Roman law for a citizen to have more than one wife. In 285 A.D. a constitution of Diocletian and Maximian interdicted polygamy to all subjects of the empire without exception. But with the Jews, at least, the enactment failed of its effect; and in 393 A.D. a special law was issued by Theodosius to compel the Jews to relinquish this national custom. Even so they were not induced to conform." - Joyce, George (1933). Christian Marriage, p. 560.

    Many of these fathers, early on in Christian history tended to ignore the Old Testament sexual codes in regards to their sexual views. Rather than using it as a framework, often the New Testament was put at the forefront and interpreted through the customs and ideas of the time:

    "Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil's gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die." - St. Tertullian (150-230)

    Last, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers tended to be monks and those living in exclusion. Hence those who are eunuchs instructing the married how to live. As you can imagine, not the best type of person to give such advice. Consider this quote below from a celibate father:

    "Woman is the root of all evil." - St Jerome (c. 320-420)

    Generally, theology on sex and marriage was never properly harmonized with the Old Testament Law. It makes sense to use the Old Testament to clarify what is found in the New Testament, but due to Stoic philosophy and Platonism, we today have a very sexually prudish church.

    My theory as to why the biblical concepts of sex and marriage became erronious within the first couple centuries of the early church, is that many had in mind that we do not need to read the Old Testament Law anymore. Since we are not bound to many of the ordinances found within the Old Testament, many did not see any relevance in researching its text. And considering that the New Testament makes little explanation (no self-expository on key terms and very few examples given) as to what is or is not a sin when it comes to sex, they had to rely heavily on their own understanding and the terminology found within New Testament scripture. Knowing the popularity of the concept that physical pleasure is sinful and so as to look "more holy" to those around them, they took a more conservative approach to interpreting the New Testament on this topic.

    Consider Martin Luther's reexamination of the topic:

    "I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter." - Martin Luther (c. 1483 - 1546),

    Consider also that Charles Wesley's son was a polygamist (Charles, the famous hymn writer and brother of John Wesley):

    So, with the topic of sex, we find very few quotes in the early fathers, and of those quotes, most seem rather restrictive. However, the lack of quotes could be a sign that such doctrine was not entirely defined and more one's own interpretation at the time.

    TRINITY / GODHEAD

    ERROR 1 - CERINTHUS -
    (
    Taught God did not create the world. Taught Jesus was just used by God.) -

      Cerinthus’ ideas, though shocking, were more local to Asia Minor and the East, and of short duration compared to that of the Gnostic Marcion who, in 140 AD, would start a strange Gnostic sect of Christianity that would spread over the Mediterranean and remain intact for centuries. Cerinthus’ chief contribution to Christianity lies in the fact that the most enduring of the gospels, that of John, was written in response to it, as were the epistles of John.

    ERROR 2 - CIRCUMCISERS/JUDAIZERS -
    (Taught circumcision required for salvation. Not a gnostic concept, but rather Jewish.)

      We see the apostles directly address this error within the pages of scripture.

    ERROR 3 - MARCION -
    (Taught that the O.T. God and Writings are different than N.T., hence no longer relevant.) -

      The quasi-Gnostic Marcion (c 145 AD), however, would excite a massive reaction from the church. Marcion immigrated from Sinope (where some early Christian writers claim he was the son of the Bishop of Sinope) to Rome in 140 AD. By 144 he was excommunicated for being a “quasi-Gnostic heretic” for endorsing the strange Dualism that all early Gnosticism espoused, and asserting that salvation was by gnosis. He would diligently compile and preserve Pauline epistles to bolster his evangelizing, but would then reject the “Old Testament” as being the witness of the Creator God but not of the loving Father God of Jesus; therefore the scripture was nothing with which the Christian need be concerned. It was from an old god for the Jews. Marcion evangelized in imitation of Paul, whom he declared to have been the true and only apostle of Jesus. Wherever he went he established churches and made followers. He was even accused of editing the Gospel of Luke and some of the epistles of Paul to remove anything Jewish from them, to further bolster his anti-Jewish new Jesus. Marcion’s heretical movement lasted from the 2nd century to the 5th before dying out.

    ERROR 4 - GNOSTICISM -
    (The main concept overall that matter or physical is evil.)

      "Matter is evil!" was the cry of the Gnostics. This idea was borrowed from certain Greek philosophers. It stood against Catholic teaching, not only because it contradicts Genesis 1:31 ("And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good") and other scriptures, but because it denies the Incarnation. If matter is evil, then Jesus Christ could not be true God and true man, for Christ is in no way evil. Thus many Gnostics denied the Incarnation, claiming that Christ only appeared to be a man, but that his humanity was an illusion. Some Gnostics, recognizing that the Old Testament taught that God created matter, claimed that the God of the Jews was an evil deity who was distinct from the New Testament God of Jesus Christ. They also proposed belief in many divine beings, known as "aeons," who mediated between man and the ultimate, unreachable God. The lowest of these aeons, the one who had contact with men, was supposed to be Jesus Christ.

    ERROR 5 - MONTANISM -
    (More charismatic, claiming direct revelation from God and holding to Modalism - God is one, not three)

      Scholars are divided as to when Montanus first began his prophecy, having chosen dates varying from c. AD 135 to as late as AD 177.[1] Montanus traveled among the rural settlements of Asia Minor after his conversion, and preached and testified what he purported to be the Word of God; however, his teachings were regarded as heresy by the orthodox Church for a number of reasons. He claimed to have received a series of direct revelations from the Holy Spirit.

      Prisca, sometimes called Priscilla, and Maximilla, who likewise claimed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As they went, "the Three" as they were called, spoke in ecstatic visions and urged their followers to fast and pray, so that they might share these personal revelations. His preachings spread from his native Phrygia (where he proclaimed the village of Pepuza as the site of the New Jerusalem) across the contemporary Christian world, to Africa and Gaul.

      Prisca claimed that Christ had appeared to her in female form. When she was excommunicated, she exclaimed "I am driven away like the wolf from the sheep. I am no wolf: I am word and spirit and power."citation needed

    ERROR 6 - SABELLIANISM/MODALISM -
    (Taught God is One only, not three persons.)

      Basically this theology developed as a reaction to squabbles between Gnostics and Christians by saying.. Look God is one. Its very simple.. But in the end, it just led to yet another heresy.

    And plenty more related errors regarding the Godhead. All of them twisting some conceptual understanding of who God is. Should we emphasize Christ as fully man, fully God or both? Is he really God? Is he really a man? Was he a physical being? All of these seem like simple questions, but for some reason, the Devil was able to capture the minds of many and take them into error.

    For a detailed study on the Trinity (the Godhead), click here.



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