The Church, Apostasy, Reformation,
BY JAMES M. TOLLE
In the city of
(Ephesians 5:24). No authority has been given by God to any man, set of men, or ecclesiastical body to change any of its features. Let us observe a brief outline of the New Testament pattern of the Lord’s church.
1. Designations: “The
church of the Lord” (Acts20:28, A.S.V.), “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians ), “the body” (Colossians ),
“the house of God” (1 Timothy ), “the
2. ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT. The supreme ruler of the church is Jesus Christ. He is its sole head. Cf. Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:24. No fallible man serves as head of the Lord’s church. Serving under the Savior were the apostles. Their ministry in the church is perpetual. Their inspired teaching, contained in the New Testament, is the authority of Christ expressed to the church during all ages. Since their ministry through the medium of the New Testament is complete and perpetual, they have no successors. Cf. Ephesians 4: 11-16; 1 John 4:6.
The sole unit of organization in the Lord’s church is the local congregation, which is free from the chains of ecciesiasticism. Christ ordained no conventions, synods, nor councils to govern his church. Each congregation is in dependent, with the oversight under the supreme headship of Jesus invested in a plurality of elders, pastors, or bishops—three different terms referring to the same class of officers. See Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Acts ; .
The elders, bishops, or pastors have no authority over congregations other than the one in which they serve, nor do they have authority over the officers of other congregations.
Also in the divine organization of the church are deacons (Greek diakanos, servant) and evangelists (Greek euaggelistes, one who proclaims good tidings). See 1 Timothy 3:8-13; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 2:2; 4:5.
Religious titles, such as Father, Reverend, Right Reverend, His Eminence, etc., are not used by the New Testament to designate any class of church officers. All graduations of authority, such as archbishop, cardinal, and pope, are also without foundation in the divine word.
3. CREED AND DISCIPLINE. The sole creed (Latin credo, I believe) of the church is belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.2 Cf. Matthew ; Acts ; 1 John 5:1. The sole discipline (rule of practice) of the church is the authority of Christ, the New Testament.
4. WORSHIP. The New Testament plan of worship is remarkably simple and yet thoroughly conducive to the spiritual uplifting of its participants; the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-28; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians ; , 25), prayer (1 Corinthians ; 1 Thessalonians ), singing (Ephesians ), and the contribution (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15).
5. TERMS OF ADMISSION. No
one ever joined the
The scriptural action of baptism is immersion, as all passages bearing on the point concur: Acts , 39; Romans 6:3, 4; Colossians , etc.3 The subjects of baptism are penitent believers (Mark , 16; Acts ; ). The New Testament is silent about the practice of infant baptism.4
6. UNITY. The
For several years following its beginning on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s ascension, the church continued as one united body by maintaining the purity of its divine pattern as set forth in the scriptures; but with the passing of the years it gradually fell under the influence of false teachers and their erroneous doctrines, resulting in a general apostasy or falling away from the divine standard.
Jesus, during His personal ministry
on earth, warned His disciples about the coming of false prophets: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in
sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By
their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of
thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good
fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth
During apostolic times the satanic influence of false teaching was already beginning its nefarious work of changing the identity of the New Testament church, and the inspired apostles plainly foretold the coming of the apostasy: “Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together with him; to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to naught by the manifestation of his coming; even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and living wonders, and with all deceit of un righteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in un righteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
“Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord, which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts -30.
“But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as ‘with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats” (1 Timothy 4:1-3).
“But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:1, 2).
The apostasy involved many departures from the New Testament pattern. Consider the following:
1. CHANGE IN CHURCH ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT. The first such change was the distinction made between the bishops and presbyters (anglicized form of the Greek word for elder).5 “What we find existing in the second century enables us to infer, respecting the preceding times, that soon after the Apostolic age the standing office of the president of the presbytery must have been formed; which president, as having preeminently the over sight over all, was designated by the special name of Episkopos (Bishop), and thus distinguished from the other presbyters. Thus the name came at length to be applied exclusively to this presbyter, while the name presbyter continued at first to be common to all.”6
Not only did the unwarranted distinction made between the bishops and elders lead to the former assuming authority over the latter, which finally brought about the extinction of the office of the presbyter or elder, but the bishops also gradually extended their authority beyond the local congregation and assumed the control of a plurality of congregations in a district known as a diocese. As the bishops assumed more and more power, they began to think of themselves as successors to the apostles; and by the middle of the second century they held almost complete authority in the government of the church.
In time the bishops of the leading
districts became elevated above their fellow bishops and were given the title
of patriarch (chief father). At first
only the bishops of
With the rise and extension of the authority of the bishops there came into being the synods and councils, the first trace of which is found toward the close of the second century. Delegates from different congregations and districts were called together to settle disputes which were continually arising over matters of doctrine and practice. These gatherings soon partook of the nature of legislative bodies,
called synods by the Greeks and councils by the Latins, and were presided over by the bishops. The laws enacted by these assemblies were designated as canons, and were considered as coming forth from the Holy Spirit and therefore binding on all who claimed to follow Christ.7 In 325 the emperor Constantine called together the first General or Ecumenical Council, representing all of the Christendom then known.
With the rise of episcopal (bishop) power and the lawmaking prerogatives assumed by the synods and councils, there developed an arbitrary distinction between the so-called clergy and laity. The laity became an inferior order, while the exalted clergy became the priests through whom, it was supposed, the people could have access to God. We can easily under stand how the elevated position assumed by the clergy resulted in the use of such presumptuous, egotistical titles as Father, Reverend, etc. Not only is the arbitrary distinction made between the clergy and laity unwarranted by the scriptures, but it is expressly condemned. Cf. Matthew 23: 8-10. Read 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:5, 6, where the priesthood of every true follower of Christ is affirmed.
2. CHANGE IN THE DESIGNATIONS OF THE CHURCH. The designations given in the all-sufficient New Testament are the divinely authorized terms which faithful men can use in referring to the church. But with apostasy came the rejection of scriptural designations and the acceptance of man-made appelations. The term Catholic was not used earlier than the second century and therefore is not of apostolic origin: Later the name used by the apostate church was Holy Catholic Church, and finally Holy Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, commonly called the Roman Catholic Church.
3. CHANGE IN THE ORDINANCE OF BAPTISM. The apostolic practice, as we previously noted, was to baptize penitent believers only. But with apostasy came the practice of baptizing infants. The first allusion to infant baptism was by Irenaeus in the latter part of the second century: “He came to redeem all by himself; all who through him, are regenerated to God, infants, little children, boys, young men and old.”8 It is supposed that the use of the term regeneration in this quotation means baptism.
The first writer to expressly refer to infant baptism was Tertullian (immediately following Irenaeus in the first quarter of the third century), but only to condemn the practice: “The delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. . . . Let them ‘come,’ while they are growing up; let them ‘come’ while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have been able to know Christ. More caution will be exercised in worldly matters: so that one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine! Let them know how “ask” for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have given ‘to him that asketh.”9
Contemporary with Tertullian was Origen, who was the first writer to advocate infant baptism as an apostolic tradition (but without a shred of evidence to support his conclusion). He wrote: “None is free from pollution, though his life be but the length of one ray upon the earth. And it is for that reason because of the sacrament of baptism that pollution of our birth is taken away, that infants are baptized.”10
Heinrich Meyer, the noted Lutheran commentator, declared, contrary to the doctrine of the denomination to which he belonged: “The baptism of infants, of which no trace is found in the N.T., is not to be held as an apostolic ordinance, as, indeed, it encountered early and long resistance; but it is an institution of the church, which gradually arose in post-apostolic times in connection with the development of ecclesiastical life and doctrinal teaching, not certainly attested before Tertullian, and by him still decidedly opposed, and, although already defended by Cyprian, only becoming general after the time of Augustine in virtue of that connection.”11
Another change made by the apostasy in the ordinance of baptism was in the substitution of affusion (sprinkling or pouring) for the scriptural action of immersion. The first case of affusion found in church history is the case of Novatus (Novatian), not earlier than AD. 251, probably 253: “Who aided by the exorcists, when attacked with an obstinate disease, and being supposed at the point of death, was baptized by aspersion (sprinkling), in the bed on which he lay; if, indeed, it be proper to say that one like him did receive baptism.”12 This method of applying water was used in such cases of illness and became known as clinic baptism, but never was in much favor for thirteen centuries.
The first time authority was given
by ecclesiastical decree for the substitution of affusion for baptism, is
described in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, Sir Edward Brewster, Baptism: “Pope Stephen II being driven from
4. CHANGE IN CHURCH WORSHIP. The apostasy changed the primitive pattern of worship from its striking simplicity to a system of pompous and elaborate ritualism.
The Lord’s Supper, as revealed in the New Testament, was originally celebrated as a simple memorial feast. But with apostasy came transubstantiation, the doctrine that “the whole substance of the bread is converted into the body, and the whole substance of the wine into the blood.”13
Another perversion of the Lord’s
Supper was the development of the sacramental sacrifice known as the Sacrifice
Other changes made in worship or devotional life were prayers for the dead, sign of the cross, worship of Mary and the saints, use of images and relics, fabrication of holy water, and counting of prayers with rosary beads. None of these practices were found in the New Testament church.
5. CHANGE IN THE CREED OF THE CHURCH. The simple creed of the primitive church was belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the authoritative expression of that creed is contained in the New Testament, which is sufficient not only as to belief but also as to doctrine and practice. But men were not satisfied with apostolic authority and felt that they had to express the main religious tenets, as they de fined them, in creeds of their own making.
One creed became known as the Apostles’ Creed, beginning: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ It does not appear in its present form earlier than 650, and it predecessors probably originated in the third century in Rome.14 The notion held by many that this creed was originated by the apostles is obviously false. The Nicene Creed was prepared by the Council of Nicaea0, convened by the emperor Constantine in AD. 325. It is an official creed of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and some of the Protestant denominations.
All such creeds as the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed were formulated by uninspired men as authoritative standards of faith, giving honor to the handiwork of man rather than to the divine revelation of God.15 The only in fallible, authoritative standard of faith advocated by the apostles and accepted by the primitive church is God’s revelation to men, the New Testament.
6. CHANGE IN THE DOCTINNES AND PRACTICES OF THE CHURCH. As we have already observed, the New Testament was the sole rule of doctrine and practice of the primitive church. Colossians 3:17 declares, “And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The authority of Jesus Christ, His Testament; “hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:3)
The apostasy presumed to improve upon the plan of the New Testament by inventing practices and doctrines totally absent in the primitive church. Some of these we have considered in connection with baptism and worship. Others are the keeping of religious holidays, such as Lent, Good Friday, Holy Thursday, Easter, Palm Sunday, All Saints’ Day, etc., celibacy of the clergy, auricular confession to the priests, purgatory, sale of indulgences, penance, Immaculate Conception, wearing of Scapulars and medals, confirmation, infallibility of the pope, and ad infinitum.
As the centuries rolled by, the
great apostasy predicted in the scriptures became more and more
pronounced. The Roman Catholic Church,
the predominate religious organization, drifted farther and farther away from
the divine pattern of the New Testament.
The Bible was virtually a sealed book, and the priest-ridden people were
kept in ignorance of it. Magnificent cathedrals,
supposedly dedicated to God, were whited sepulchres, revealing the utter vanity
of the substitution of human ways for those of the Almighty. The power of
But the indomitable spirit of men
who were groping for light in a world of darkness could not entirely be
eradicated by the fulminations, threats, and persecutions of the apostate
church. Courageous voices advocating a
reformation were raised against the corruption of
John Wycliffe (1320—1384) has been
called “Morning Star of the Reformation.”
He was a doctor at
Wycliffe had supporters in high
places and a widespread following among the people, and though
Although Wycliffe lived and died a member of the apostate church, his work was significant in that he gave the Bible to the people in their own vernacular and paved the way for the work of reformation later to follow.
Martin Luther (1483—1546) was the
most prominent and influential of the reformers. He was born in Eisleben,
When the friar Tetzel arrived in
In 1510 he had a disputation with
Dr. Eck in
In 1520 the papal bull Exsurge Dorrsine condemning Luther was
publicly burned. Excommunication
followed. After the Diet of Worms, in
April, 1521, where Luther remained firm, his friends seized him, to protect him
from treachery, and placed him safely in
Luther’s work was significant,
principally, in that he freed the Bible from the bigoted control of the Roman
Catholic Church. And while we cannot but
admire and appreciate this worthy accomplishment, we must realize that Luther
was a reformer, not a restorer. In
attempting to reform corrupt, apostate Catholicism, it seemingly never entered
his mind to go back over all the dark, dismal ages of apostasy, and taking the
New Testament as his only guide, restore the
Contemporary with Luther was Ulrich
Zwingli (1484-1531). In 1506 he was
ordained a priest. He became an ardent
student of Greek so that he could read the New Testament. At Einsiedeln he seriously contemplated the
need of religious change, even before he had heard of Luther. His preaching advocated the Bible as the
supreme authority in religion, rather than the Roman Catholic Church. He, as well as Luther, attacked
The difference between Zwingli’s
attitude toward religion and that of Luther is worthy of notice: “Luther
desired to maintain in the Church all that was not expressly contrary to the
Scriptures, and Zwingli to abolish all that could not be proved by them. The German reformer (Luther) wished to remain
united to the Church of all preceding ages, and was content to purify it of all
that was opposed to the Word of God. The
We can see from the foregoing quotation that Zwingli nominally believed in the necessity of a complete restoration of primitive Christianity, even though the record of his life shows that there was a disparity between his ideal and his actual practice. It is a pity that the ideal of restoration for which Zwingli stood was overshadowed by the reformation of Luther and, hence, did not obtain in what is known as the Reformation of the sixteenth century.
Another of the famous sixteen
century reformers is John Calvin (1509-1564).
Calvin, as well as all the other
reformers, failed to return to primitive Christianity. His efforts in the realm of reformation did not
lead to the original purity and unity of the
Henry VIII (1491-1544), king of England, is not usually thought of as a religious reformer, but his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn became the occasion for the Catholic Church in England to break all ties with Rome and to become a distinct, separate body, the Church of England, later to be called the Episcopal Church in America.
When Henry, a Roman Catholic,
failed to secure papal permission to divorce Catherine, he set out to end all
papal jurisdiction in
provided new ecclesiastical laws
and enactments against papal authority, making the breach with
John Wesley (1703-1791) was perhaps
the most influential reformer of the eighteenth century. As a member of the Church of England, he was,
strictly speaking, a reformer of the Reformation. Wesley had not wished to find a new, distinct
church but rather desired to reform the church of which he was a member.18
But the Methodist societies he had formed at
The reformation movement, although curtailing the power and influence of Roman Catholicism, never resulted in a return to the ancient order of New Testament religion. Instead of presenting to the world the one, unified body of Christ, His church, it resulted in the creation of many different bodies known as denominations. Instead of exalting the one, harmonious creed of the New Testament, it resulted in the making of many divergent and contradictory creeds, such as The Augsburg Confession of the Lutheran Church, The Thirty- Nine Articles of the Church of England, The Westminster Confession of the Presbyterian Church, The Methodist Discipline, and The Philadelphia Confession of Faith of the Baptist Church.
Although the break from Rome in the Reformation was complete from the standpoint of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and control, it was only partial as to doctrine and practice; for many of the dogmas and practices of Protestant denominationalism were borrowed from Catholicism; e. g., affusion for baptism, infant baptism, keeping of religious holidays (Lent, Easter, Good Friday, etc.), and the use of the religious title Reverend.
saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where
As the eighteenth century drew to a close and the nineteenth century began, there appeared on the religious horizon men who seriously and zealously sought for a return to “the old paths,” the primitive religion of Jesus Christ. They saw what the reformers had failed to see the all-important truth that what the world needed was not a reformation of apostate religion but a complete, full return to the purity of the first century church. They expressed boldly their dissatisfaction with Protestant denominationalism and its multiplicity of divergent creeds, names, doctrines, and practices. They rejected the notion that man’s religious destiny depended on a choice between Protestantism and Catholicism; they held to the ideal that man’s eternal welfare depended on the unqualified acceptance of the pattern of New Testament Christianity. It was their purpose to go back to the beginning—beyond all synods, councils, creeds, disciplines, sects, and parties— and, taking the church of Christ as it is fully revealed in the New Testament, restore it to the world precisely as it was at first. Their work was expressly a work of restoration.
Let us consider the efforts, as
space will permit, of some of the leading lights of the restoration movement in
In 1792 James O’Kelly (1757-1826),
a Methodist preacher who labored in Virginia and North Carolina, protested
against the new and autocratic episcopal policy inaugurated by Francis Asbury,
Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
This protest resulted in O’Kelly and four other prominent men
withdrawing from the regular Methodists and calling them selves at first
Republican Methodists. In 1794 they
adopted the scriptural name of Christian in a general meeting held at
From the foregoing information, we can see that the movement led by Thomas O’Kelly was in the nature of an effort to restore primitive Christianity and to reject the religious authority of men.
Just after the beginning of the
nineteenth century two New England Baptists, Elias Smith and Abner Jones
rebelled against Calvinist theology and began to organize congregations whose
members were simply called Christians. The work of these men was entirely
independent of the labors of O’Kelly and his associates. In 1808 Smith established the Herald of Gospel Liberty, one of
principles: No head over the church but Christ; no confession of faith, articles of religion, rubric, canons, creeds, etc. but the New Testament, and no religious name but Christian.21
The work of Elias Smith and Abner Jones is another example of the efforts of men to re turn to the ancient gospel order.
Barton W. Stone (1772-1844), born
in Port Tobacco,
In September, 1803, in
“Imprimis: We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.
“Item: We will, that our power of making laws for the government of the church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
“Item: We will, that candidates for the Gospel ministry henceforth study the Holy Scriptures with fervent prayer, and obtain license from God to preach the simple Gospel...”
“Item: We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven.”
“Item: Finally we will, that all our sister bodies read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and pre pare for death before it is too late.”23
This document reveals that the
restoration of the ancient order was being undertaken in
Another leader in restoration
movement was Thomas Campbell (1763-1854); an Old Light Anti-Burgher Seceder
Presbyterian minister who had come from
In refusing to accept the creedal requirements of his denomination pertaining to the communion service, he was suspected of being unorthodox. Charges were brought against him before the presbytery, resulting in his being censured. His appeal to the Synod of North America, the highest governing body of the Presbyterian Church, was denied; he then withdrew from the presbytery, but continued to preach on his own.
In 1809 he drew up his famous Declaration and Address, which set forth the basic principles of the restoration movement. Its sole purpose was to promote a return to primitive Christianity. Among its worthy affirmations are the following:
“Our desire, therefore, for ourselves and our brethren would be, that rejecting human opinions and the inventions of men as of any authority.... we might forever cease from further contentions about such things, returning to and holding fast by the original standard; taking the Divine word alone for our rule; the Holy Spirit for our teacher and guide, to lead us into all the truth; and Christ alone, as exhibited in the word, for our salvation; that, by so doing, we may be at peace among ourselves, follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
“The church of Christ upon the earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him and in all things according to the Scriptures, and that manifest the same by their tempers and conduct, and of none else; as none else can be truly and properly called Christians.”
“…nothing ought to be inculcated upon Christians as articles of faith; nor required of them as terms of communion, but what is expressly taught and enjoined upon them in the word of God. Nor ought anything to be admitted as of Divine obligation. . . but what is expressly enjoined by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles upon the New Testament church, either in express terms or by approved precedent.”
Thomas Campbell’s son Alexander
(1788-1866) came to
In studying the scriptures;
Alexander realized that neither he nor the other members of his family had been
scripturally baptized when they were sprinkled in infancy. On
Alexander Campbell had a larger
field in which to work than his father and the other leaders of the restoration
movement. Gifted of God with a fine
intellect and a magnificent speaking ability; under his leadership the
restoration of the primitive order made its greatest strides. With clarity, simplicity, and power he set
forth the teaching of the New Testament concerning the
The charge has often been made against
Alexander Campbell that he was the founder of a denomination. Such a charge is expressive of a sectarian
spirit and an ignorance of the gospel ideal of unity and the all-sufficiency in
religion of the New Testament.
“But a restoration of the ancient order of things, it appears, is all that is contemplated by the wise disciples of the Lord; as it is agreed that this is all that is wanting to the perfection, happiness, and glory of the Christian community . . . Now, in attempting to accomplish this it must be observed, that it belongs to every congregation of individuals to discard from their faith and their practice everything that is not found written in the New Testament of the Lord and
Saviour, and to believe and practice whatever is there enjoined. This done and everything is done which ought to be done.”
“But the constitution of the kingdom of the Saviour is the New Testament, and this alone is adapted to the existence of his kingdom in the world. To restore the ancient order of things this must be recognized as the only constitution of this kingdom…”24
The church of the first century, as
revealed in the New Testament, is presented as a finality. Almighty God who saw the end from the
beginning, constituted the church in doctrine and practice to meet the demands
of His cause in all times and in all countries.
This being true, it necessarily follows that the restoration of the
church in every respect as it was in the beginning is the will of God. Since the
Let us be thankful to God that the
We of the church of Christ plead with all men everywhere to forsake the doctrines, names, practices, and commandments of men and come to the primitive religion of Christ, speaking where God’s word speaks and being silent where God’s word is silent, “contending earnestly for the faith which was once for all de livered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
1 The use of the plural
here obviously designates the local congregations composing the church. The
2 In popular usage the term creed Is used synonymously with discipline or rule of practice.
3 “Immersion, and not sprinkling, was unquestionably the original form.” Philip Schaff, History of the Apostolic Church, p. 568.
4 “We have all reason for not deriving Infant baptism from apostolic tradition.” Augustus Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, Torrey’s Translation, Vol. I, p. 311.
5 “That they (presbyters) did not differ at all from the bishops or overseers (as is acknowledged by Jerome on Titus 1:5 . . .) is evident from the fact that the two words are used indiscriminately, Acts XX:17, 28; Titus 1:5.7 and that the duty of presbyters Is described by the episkopein, 1 Peter V:1 sq Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (American Book do., New York, 1889). p. 536.
6Neander Op. Cit. Vol. I, p. 190.
7 The laws enacted by the synods and councils were doctrines and commandments of men, not those of Christ and His apostles. The New Testament, with its perfect pattern for the church, was completed long before the first synod or council enacted a single law. See 2 Peter 1:3. Any doctrine or practice created after the completion of New Testament revelation is human and not divine in origin.
8Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book U, Chap. 22, Sec. 4.
9Tertullian, On Baptism, Chap. XVIII, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. III, p. 678.
10 Origen, Works, vol. I, p. 65.
11Heinrich Meyer, Commentary on Acts, (T.T. and Clark, Edinburgh, 1877), pp. 87, 8&
12 Eusebius Pamphilus, Ecclesiastical History, Translation by C. F. Cruse (Davis and Brother, Philadelphia, 1833), p. 366.
13“Canon and Decrees of the Council of
15 “Human creeds are
objectionable under any and all circumstances; First, because the Christian
Scriptures are complete. Second if a
creed contains more than the Scriptures it is not right and is, therefore,
objectionable. Third if a creed contains
less than the scriptures it is not right and is therefore objectionable. Fourth, if a creed differs in any respect
from Scripture it is not right and is objectionable. And, fifth, if a creed is precisely like the
Scriptures it is not needed for we have the Scriptures. Therefore under any and all circumstances
creeds are objectionable.” T. W.
16J. H. Merle D’Aubigne,
History of the Reformation, (Hurst
17Ego veterem Chrzsti Eccteszae unitatem fnstaurare non desinan, Opp. III 47
18 Wesley never left the Church of England and was still a member when he died.
19 W. E. Macdenny, The Life of James O’Kelly, pp.114. 115.
20 Ibid; pp. 12I, 122.
21“Elias Smith The Life and Conversion of Elias Smith, (Portsmouth, N. H. 1816), p. 14.
22John Rogers, The Biography of E Barton Warren Stone, p. 50.
24Alexander Campbell, The Ancient Order of Things, quoted in Homer Hailey. Attitudes and Consequences (Old Paths Book Club, Kansas City, 1945), pp. 72. 73.