I always say there’s nothing like reading error to motivate one to write truth.
I’m prone to writing error here and there, too. I’m human. I have things I don’t understand. I have things I forget to consider.
Teaching and Truth
Hopefully those of us who take it upon ourselves to teach will at least never make errors on purpose. Some do, however, Some are so bent on some supposed truth that they couldn’t care less about facts, history, Scripture or anything else. They’ll twist anything to prove their point. (Thus, the anti-Norman Geisler post two days ago.)
Catholicism, the Councils, the Creeds and Men’s Salvation
The one today, however, is not a purposeful twisting of history, I’m quite sure. It’s simply not considering history. It’s so easy not to notice the obvious.
On a “Equipping Catholics” blog, I read:
It is very important that we take a moment to recognize the impact heresies and anti-Christ philosophies can have on the eternal destinies of their adherents. False concepts of Christ can pull people away from the only narrow path that Jesus said leads to eternal salvation. False doctrines about Christ can result in the eternal loss of one’s soul.
And that is precisely why the Father gave us the Church — to protect us from those falsehoods and erroneous philosophies about salvation, sin and judgment …
Indeed, it was the early Church Councils (such as Nicea, Ephesus, Constantinople and Chalcedon) that handed down to the 21st century Church what is still considered the orthodox Christian faith — much of which is illustrated in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
What this writer means is that it’s a good thing that these councils came along to defeat heresies like Arianism and Nestorianism, or else people might be pulled away “from the only narrow path that Jesus said leads to eternal salvation.”
What the writer did not consider–nor have most of the rest of us considered–is whether it worked.
Did the councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon lead people to follow Christ on the narrow path and save their souls?
Did they not rather lead to a top-heavy hierarchy, numerous false conversions, and a church full of corruption, superstition, and false doctrines? A church which later would be rightly called antichrist by the multitudes that fled its corruption and persecution?
Catholicism and the Dark Ages
After the councils, Christians became the persecutors rather than the persecuted. Rather than desecrating temples of idols, they created temples of idols so much that the emperor Julian the Apostate declared that Christians surpassed the pagans in their hero worship (by worshipping saints).
The last of the seven councils, of which the aforementioned are the first four, approved the “veneration” of icons. That Council, overriding a previous one, declared that it was appropriate to proskuneo a picture of a saint, as long as you didn’t latreia it.
Both those words are translated worship in the NT. In fact, both are used in Jesus’ statement to the devil, when he quoted Deuteronomy, “You shall worship (proskuneo) the Lord your God and him only shall you serve (latreia).” It seems clear to me that Jesus would not have approved of the worship of a picture of Peter, any more than Peter, who rejected proskuneo from Cornelius (Acts 10:25), would.
The Church produced from these great councils refused to allow its followers to hear the Scriptures, whether written or read aloud, in a language their followers could understand.Â They burned John Huss and William Tyndale alive for giving people the Scriptures in the vernacular, and they burned John Wycliffe’s bones twelve years after he was buried because they couldn’t find him while he was alive.
This Church created “the Dark Ages,” the greatest time of ignorance in the world since before Sumeria in 6000 BC, and to this day they continue to produce Christians that are well over 90% Christian in name only.
I don’t think the councils succeeded at keeping people on the narrow path for the salvation of their soul.
Would Allowing Heresy Have Done Better?
I suppose you want me to give reasons for asserting that.
- It could not have done worse; that’s impossible.
- It may have prevented the church gaining political power, and that’s always better.
- The churches did not hold a council to rout the gnostics, but they were driven out, anyway.
- If the Church had not gone into cahoots with the emperor, they may not have admitted all those unconverted pagans who switched to Christianity for purely political reasons.
Since the Church did hold the councils, and since they did get political help to win their battles, history went the way it did. We’ll never know what would have happened had it not happened.
However, I find it impossible to believe that a lack of understanding of the Trinity, which Tertullian said was common in the church in A.D. 200,Â could have led to as many people forsaking the narrow path and losing their souls than the rout of councils and creeds did.