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Yeshua Explored

A Revolution

todayDecember 6, 2021 23

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(This series of articles were written at the beginning of the first lockdown in March/April 2020)

Many of us have plans, some of us perhaps have too many plans. I fall into that latter category and thus have created a quandary; so which of these plans are of God and should be pursued? Always an issue for me and I haven’t always got it right, but I think I’ve had more hits than misses (thank goodness you never hear of the latter, some of them have been extremely strange and ill-advised!) Currently I feel a calling that draws seamlessly from the areas I have been writing about for twelve years, but very much reinforced by current events. In short, using a phrase that will be repeated in this book, the Church hasn’t reformed through evolution, so God has brought a revolution. Any analysis of the state of the current Church in the West would concede that little has changed over the years to draw it back to the original model from New Testament times. There’s a good twelve years of research and experience that have poured into those words, encompassing nine books detailing my journey into the subject! Here is an extremely potted version of what exactly went wrong in the Western Church between the 2nd Century and modern times …

The established mainstream Church first hit the rails as soon as the original apostles had died, leaving the legacy of Jesus in the hands of Gentiles educated in the Greek-speaking world and immersed in the philosophic ideas of Ancient Greece, particularly the dualism of Plato, which separated the spiritual from the physical, with the former being preferred to the latter. Heresies, such as Marcionism and Gnosticism, abounded, borne out of corruptions of God’s Word through these ideas from Greek philosophy and these were countered through the efforts of early Church fathers such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, who, themselves were self-styled Christian philosophers. So the Christian world in those days was fought over by Greeks versus Greeks, with the only real casualty being the gospel itself.

It was in the ancient city of Alexandria when things really started to get worse, thanks firstly to the Church Father, Clement, who was by today’s standard a heretic in all but name, and Origen, who did immeasurable damage in the area of Bible interpretation, popularising the use of allegory in his approach to Holy Scripture and opening up the floodgates for ages to come, allowing “teachers” to coax any meaning they liked out of their reading of the Bible.

Then came the Dark Ages, a period of ignorance, superstition and… darkness. Although the Bible was now available, few could actually read it, apart from the professional class of Christians, the clergy. Christians were now forced out of their homes into buildings, churches, and told that only there may they attain salvation! Some of the blame for these sorry times could be laid at the feet of the foremost Christian teacher of that day, Augustine. He wrote a book, City of God, as a defence of Christianity against the paganism that surrounded it. In the book, he encouraged his readers, (in a Christian take on the dualism of Platonism,) to pay less attention to their lives and, instead, look heavenwards at the “city yet to come”, the City of God, or Heaven. Hence they were Dark Ages in more ways than one, when nobody really cared about anything apart from the promises of the after-life, that were dictated by the State Church with its system of sacraments, rather than by the authentic route of repentance of sins and trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

In the 8th Century the works of another Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was discovered by the Muslims and translated by the Jews into the languages of the day. By introducing the concept of rationalism into the religious cultures of the Jews, Muslims and Christians, it is fair to say that the damage done was immense. These ideas were taken up by the most influential Christian philosopher of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, who created a religious system combining faith and reason, stating that even the existence of God was not to be taken as a given but through analysis of information that could be gathered by the senses.

The genie had been let out of the bottle and the subsequent rise of rationalism was to eat away at the certainties of faith. State Christianity became more of a philosophic system to be argued over rather than a supernatural expression of God’s plans for mankind. This was not helped by the corruptions of the Catholic Church and its use of pagan practices to control the ordinary people. Something had to give and it was Martin Luther who provided the spark of a Reformation in the Church, a new beginning.

Yet even the Reformers were not free from Greek influences, following the Platonism of Augustine in many of their ideas, as distinct from the Roman Catholics, who stuck to the Aristotelianism of Thomas Aquinas. It was the accent on the rationalism of Aristotle that was to spearhead the next major attack on the Christian Church, which has lasted from the end of the Middle Ages right up until today. First came the Renaissance, the “rebirth”, the flowering of culture and artistic expression in Italy, believe it or not inspired by the ideals of Ancient Greece! This was also the birth of Humanism, a movement that placed man at the centre of everything, rather than God. Then came the philosophers of the Enlightenment, who built on these ideas and eventually did away totally with the need for God, replacing Him with their own rational ideas. This gave birth to Individualism, which has now become the defining feature of modern society.

Although God made something of a comeback thanks to the Methodist movement, followed by the awakenings of the 18th and 19th Centuries, prompting a massive worldwide missionary movement, we largely entered an age of confusion and division. This was the age of new cults, such as Christian Science and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, borne out of the ancient Greek heresies. It was also an age of a fight back by the Catholics, with strange new doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception. There were the Deists, who believed in some kind of absentee landlord God and then there was Charles Darwin and his ideas, to further chip away at the ancient faith, with the mallet of human reason and scientific methodology. And out of Germany came Higher Criticism, a new way to disbelieve the Bible.

Which brings us to the modern age, where our story ends, though the problems don’t, as we are still held bound by Greek thought. It hasn’t gone away; it has just embedded itself into our thought processes. There is a solution, well documented in my more recent books, but let’s first regroup and return to the matter-at-hand … next week …

This is an extract from the book, Flockdown: Is the Church out for the count?, available for £5 at  

Is God reforming His church?

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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Faith Hope and Love with Chick Yuill Commissioner Anthony Cotterill is the Territorial Commander  -  the senior national leader  -  for The Salvation Army in the UK and Ireland. He spoke to Chick Yuill about the origins of the movement, its unique combination of church and charity, and the distinctive features of its worship and witness.

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