OriginalChristianity.Net

Not Traditional, Original

The Vision of OriginalChristianity.Net

The vision of OriginalChristianity.Net is to look at the beliefs and practices of the the original Christians.  The reason why this is important is that over the millennium Christianity has developed numerous factions that all claim that that they are the true continuation of original Christianity.  I heard exactly that when I visited a Greek Orthodox Church, I have read it in Roman Catholic literature, it is in the bulletin of a local non-denominational church in my area.  They make these claims despite the fact that they have disagreed, even violently at times.  For other articles on this topic, see A Major Objection to the Restoration Movement Is That Christianity Has Not Changed Substantially Over Time, and Another Claim of Original Christianity in Practice Today,

Throughout this website are numerous articles written on the numerous divisions in the Church that we have today, how a lot of these doctrines developed that are behind all these divisions, and some key points on how original Christianity differed from today.  It is important to look at all these things because they are part of Christianity now and play a big part, perhaps more as obstacles, in the faith of the individual believer.

But the key point of this website is to be able to envision what original Christianity, and in particular the time of Jesus and the apostles and disciples that he touched was really like. There was an incredible spirituality. With the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and afterward the sending of the Holy Spirit we see the most incredible movement of God on earth since creation.

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This was a time of power, miracles, healing, and deliverance, not only by Jesus, but by those he touched, his apostles and disciples. People saw God in action through these men. They saw the word of God living, because they lived it together. There was incredible community and sharing. There was incredible believing. There was great faith.

It was a time of simple doctrine.  There were no official doctrines on infant baptism or believer’s baptism. There was no doctrine that prophecy and the other gifts and manifestations of the spirit had ceased. There were baptisms being carried out, and the last supper repeated as a memorial, but there were no “sacraments”, somehow mysteriously conveying grace by ritualistic practices. There were no autonomous churches disputing which form of church government was doctrinally correct, which end times theology was correct, or arguments over whether or not there was eternal security.

There was no argument over the status of the Bible, because there was no Bible. Jesus had referenced the law and the prophets, including the Psalms, as the word of God. And only those books with the addition of the words of Jesus were considered the word of God. There were no written Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There were no epistles of Peter, Paul, Hebrews, John, and Jude. So there was no argument over doctrines derived from them like eternal security, justification by grace, predestination, or even the Trinity.

Philosophy was rejected as an unwise practice of the Greeks that actually tore down faith more than it built, so discussion of faith wasn’t an analytical exercise in the nuances of the meanings of words, but rather simple directives, and powerful stories and analogies that emphasize the important meanings to be focused on while ignoring the myriad details that can lead people astray.

What existed was the good news that Jesus the Messiah had come, that he had fulfilled the law, had sent the Holy Spirit, and now many believers were walking in great faith and power. What existed was great praise, great faith, and great love of God.

All of this is not to say that this was an easy time. There were persecutions, challenges, and trials, as both the Jews and the Romans saw this burgeoning Christianity as a threat. But this just served to bring the Christians closer together, and more united in their faith.

Original Christianity was a time of great unity, simple doctrine, great believing, with many believers walking in the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as you read these articles that discuss all of the divisions, and developments, both good and bad throughout the millennia of history of Christianity, it is important to maintain the focus of the simple vision of original Christianity.  Pray, praise the Lord, walk in the power of the spirit, love God and love your neighbor, and rejoice in what Christ has done. Join together with any Christian who is doing the same.  And in the process perhaps we can bring some of what made original Christianity so great back to life.

© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

Welcome to Original Christianity.Net

It appears that universally, in the church, we Christians marvel at both at Jesus’ miracles and the wisdom in his parables. We especially are in awe of his life, his incredible birth, his short but incredibly powerful ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. We love him for those. We are also moved by the depth of the wisdom and inspiration of books like the Psalms and Proverbs. Almost universally, although most would say all true Christians, acknowledge him as Lord, and strive to follow his leadership as we walk in a dark world filled with daily challenges, including overcoming evil.

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In fact, there are some universal, and some almost universal, elements in Christianity. Universally held elements of Christianity include this deep awe of Christ, and likewise, for the bible. The bible, or at least for some, sections of the bible, such as the parables of Christ in the gospels, the powerful poetry of the Psalms, and the wisdom in Proverbs are universally held in the deepest regard. Almost universally held elements include the belief in Christ as the only begotten son of the Father, physically born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, who died for out sins, and was raised from the dead and is presently seated at the right hand of God. Christians look forward to spending eternity with the Lord. Even more, there is common ground as churches promote worship, baptism, and communion with some similarity.

But beyond some basics like these, there is far less agreement on the tenets of Christianity. In fact, there is an elephant in the Church, an elephant of disagreement resulting in tens of thousands of sects, disagreeing on many doctrines.

The disagreements have been legion, often bloody, and always confusing. Christians have killed other Christians for defying the rule of infant baptism and proclaiming “believer’s baptism”. Many Christians have declared other Christians apostate because of their view of the Bible, whether it is inerrant, infallible, or at least partially of human origin.

And even if they agree on the status of the Bible, they don’t agree on what it says on these issues. For example, there is disagreement over basic principles of interpretation like whether the overriding principle is based on the covenants of God versus which dispensation we are in.

There are Christians that call other Christians apostate (traitorous) because they believe that the gifts of the spirit, i.e., prophecy and speaking in tongues, etc. still exist, and vice versa. These days there are sharp divides over homosexuality, abortion, the Word of Faith movement, the emergent Church movement, and the role of women in the church.

Even if Christians don’t call others apostate, they still disagree to the point of not fellowshipping over issues like: dietary laws (whether they need to be followed), drinking alcohol, end times (Eschatology), eternal security, evolution vs. literal seven days of creation, giving vs. tithing, predestination, psychology: the acceptability of Christian counseling, sacraments as conveyers of grace or not, the “in the name of Jesus” debate, and pacifism vs. the concept of a just war, and other issues.

Then there is the ecumenical concept of Christian “orthodoxy” that suggests that none of the issues so far discussed really matter even there are huge divisions over them. The only issue that really matters in “orthodoxy” is whether one accepts the doctrine of the Trinity, that Jesus the man is really God and a person in a triune godhead with two other persons, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. This doctrine is promoted as the absolutely most important concept in Christianity even though this emphasis is totally missing for the first centuries of the church.

And let alone that the very doctrine of the Trinity has been disputed over the centuries with more Christians killing other Christians over this issue than any other. It appears that for some that as long as a church accepts the doctrine of the Trinity it doesn’t matter if it teaches that homosexuality is normal or apostate, and/or abortion is choice or murder, and/or baptism should be infant baptism or believer’s baptism, and/or there are two “ordinances” or seven sacraments, and so forth, and so on.

This mess is a huge blemish on the body of Christ. Some of these issues may be legitimate, but to have so many “orthodox” churches teaching so many disparate doctrines flies right in the face of Paul’s charge for believers to have the same mind:

Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 LITV)

If, as Paul teaches, we corporately are the body of Christ, then does the current collective body of competing Christian theologies accurately reflect the mind of Christ. Certainly, no one can think so.

But, before the present time with our tens of thousands of Christian denominations, and before the Reformation that shifted the focus of Christianity from the decisions of church councils and the Pope to the Bible as the principle source of guidance, and before the great schism about a thousand years ago, even before there were arguments over the nature of Christ, the Trinity and whether Mary was the mother of God in the beginning of the age of Christendom (fourth century), even before there was a Catholic church (110 A.D.) there was original primitive Christianity.

While some of the focus of Christianity remains, much has changed over the millennia. The question is whether all or even any of the different traditions that have developed are correct, or the original believers were the ones that actually got it the most right. The place to start is by looking at the beliefs and practices of original, primitive Christianity, and seriously consider embracing them again even though some of them may be radically different from what you or I hold today.

In the days of original, primitive Christianity:

(In the listings below hyperlinks offer more information on the point being made.)

Elements usually still held today:

Elements still held today by some:

Elements held today by few, if any believers:

Elements that are divisive today but didn’t appear to exist then:

The most current blogs (articles) are below. The articles can touch on a large number of topics including ancient history, the original language of the bible, grammar and logic, dividing doctrines besides the basics of Christianity, what Jesus taught, and development (movements) in Christianity throughout the centuries. For an organized listing of the blogs (articles) to get an overview and better understanding of the contents on this web site, go to the table of contents. There is more information on design of this website on this page; look on the right sidebar under Original Christianity and click “Why? Click to Read More…”

Communion’s Deep Meaning – Christ’s Sacrifice Has Freed Us From The Power of Sin

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
(1Co 11:23-25 ESV)

Those are oft quoted verses in many churches before the start of the communion service.  I would like to look at what Paul wrote about Communion in the entire context. The larger context in First Corinthians shows multiple issues with communion in the time of Paul:

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.  (1Co 11:17 ESV)
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,  (1Co 11:18 ESV)
for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.  (1Co 11:19 ESV)
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.  (1Co 11:20 ESV)
For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.  (1Co 11:21 ESV)
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.  (1Co 11:22 ESV)
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  (1Co 11:23 ESV)
and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  (1Co 11:24 ESV)
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  (1Co 11:25 ESV)
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  (1Co 11:26 ESV)
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.  (1Co 11:27 ESV)
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  (1Co 11:28 ESV)
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  (1Co 11:29 ESV)
That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  (1Co 11:30 ESV)
But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  (1Co 11:31 ESV)
But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.  (1Co 11:32 ESV)
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—  (1Co 11:33 ESV)
if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.  (1Co 11:34 ESV)

There are numerous points made in this section and I would like to touch on some of them,

In verses 20-21 Paul writes “ When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat – For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal”. Paul also says that at these meals some people go hungry while others get drunk. Paul makes a distinction here between just eating a meal together with other believers and the Lord’s Supper. He is saying that just getting together with other believers for a meal is not the Lord’s supper. He goes on in the next verses to ask things like don’t you have your own houses to live in, and don’t you see the you’re humiliating the people who come to these gatherings and don’t get to eat?

In verses 23 through 25 Paul lays out the pattern of service for holy Communion. In verse 23 he specified that this is the instruction that he received. Jesus started with the bread, and announced, “This is my body”.  At this point he gives the directive, “Do this in remembrance of me”. In the next verse he specifies the next step in the procedure, which is the same way Jesus did it! Paul then quotes the words of Jesus, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

In verse 26 he then states the spiritual significance of what is going on – that as often as you do this you are declaring the importance of Jesus’s death in our lives. Jesus’ broken body became our sin. Jesus’ blood washed away those sins, and this became The New Covenant with God!

This, then, is the point. Jesus’ death frees us from the power of sin.  Because he died for us Jesus is life giving.  Because of his death Jesus is healing. Because he gave his body Jesus is resurrecting. That is why his body is the bread of life.   Remembering these things is breath and life, bread and wine, and  eternal power to us.

Further on in the verses, verse 27 does specify that people who receive communion without this frame of mind are unworthy and are actually part of the problem that Jesus had to go to the cross for. In verse 30 says that if you partake of the Last Supper without this frame of mind you bring judgment on yourself. He even goes on to say that this lack of believing in what Christ’s body and blood accomplished is at the cause of why so many are weak, ill, and dying. And that is because weakness, sickness and yes, death, are with us because of the power of sin in the world.

In my own head I see a vision of holy Communion with a neon sign flashing, “Jesus Christ Became Sin For You” – “His Death Washed Away Your Sin” “Sin Has No Power Over You”- “Walk In Deliverance”. Or how about this:


provided by: www.criticallayouts.com
Praise the Lord for the Last Supper. Praise the Lord he gave us this service to be done as often as we get together to have this supremely powerful thought in our head of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross!

 

 

Almost All Christian Churches Practice Communion

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  (1Co 11:23-25 ESV)

The above verses, among others, are commonly read before the practice known as Holy Communion in many churches. (Like Baptism there are a couple exceptions – see Neither Baptism Nor Communion Services for Quakers and the Salvation Army)  The setting for these verses is known as the Last Supper. Luke, chapter 22: 1-38, tells us that the Passover feast was drawing near, and Jesus gave instructions to prepare for the Passover meal to his disciples, who then made the preparations, and we see in the verses that Jesus ate a final meal with his disciples at that time, and he taught a number of things.  It was the first Communion service.

There are a number of truths in the above verses:

  1. Communion is a practice commanded by Jesus Christ himself. (Jesus said the words.)
  2. We are to practice communion to remember Jesus and what he has done. (“Do this in remembrance of me.”)
  3. Jesus Christ’s shedding of blood – literally giving his life for us – brings us a new covenant with God. ( “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”)
  4. It is to be done as a practice. (“Do this, as often as you drink it.”)

Lets look at what Jesus was referring to above in speaking about a new covenant. Jeremiah prophesied about a new covenant:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  (Jer 31:31-34 ESV)

If Jesus’ death brought a new covenant what was the old covenant? It was the agreement God made with Israel in the time before Christ. It included the law of the old Testament. The law was a system where people knew what do by the system of rules and regulations about life. It was the 10 commandments, but also so much more. There were feasts to be observed, sacrifices to be made, tithes to be paid, rules on what to eat and what not to eat, how to treat different individuals and so much more.

Jeremiah says that the new covenant will no longer be a written law ouside the body but an inner knowing of the Lord. That is what Jesus brought. Communion remembers Jesus’ sacrifice and celebrates that his death allows us the internal access to the Father that we receive when we accept Jesus as Lord.

Neither Baptism Nor Communion Services for Quakers and the Salvation Army

First, it should be noted that not all Quakers consider themselves Christians but many doi, and since they do that is why they’re being considered here. On the other hand the Salvation Army considers itself “an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church” ii, and they appear to be unique as a group that as is purely Christian group that does not acknowledge the practice of baptism, and communion.

While the Salvation Army does allow its members to participate in communion services outside the Salvation Army for the purposes of fellowshipping with other churches, its long-standing practice has been to not hold communion services itself. This stance is based on the belief that communion and baptism are outward signs in the world whereas the real importance is on what is going on spiritually and internally. It is also a form of protest over some of the divisiveness caused by different churches’ stances on the sacramental nature of these practices. I think the following gives an excellent explanation on the position of the Salvation Army – this is right from a Salvation Army site:

The reasons for The Salvation Army’s cessation of the sacraments may be summarised as follows:

1. The Army’s Founders felt that many Christians had come to rely on the outward signs of spiritual grace rather than on grace itself. William and Catherine Booth believed, with the Apostle Paul, that salvation came solely from the grace of God personally received by faith. They felt that much of what passed for Christianity in their day was primarily an observance of outward ritual.

2. Some Bible scholars had pointed out that there was no scriptural basis for regarding the sacraments as essential to salvation or Christian living. Many Christians assumed that Jesus commanded the use of baptism and holy communion. But there are very few New Testament references to these practices and it was argued that none of them showed any intention by Jesus that they (or any other practice) should have become fixed ceremonies.

3. The sacraments had been a divisive influence in the Church throughout Christian history and at times the cause of bitter controversy and abuse.

4. Some churches would not allow women to administer the sacraments. The Army, however, believed that women may take an equal part in its ministry, and did not want to compromise this stance.

5. The Society of Friends (the Quakers) had managed to live holy lives without the use of sacraments.

6. Many early-day converts to the Army had previously been alcoholics. It was considered unwise to tempt them with the wine used in holy communion.
To a large extent this is still the Salvationist’s standpoint. However, it should be stressed that Salvationists have never been in opposition to the sacraments. Indeed, when they take part in gatherings with Christians from other churches, Salvationists will often share in using the symbols of the Lord’s Supper as a sign of fellowship. Furthermore, Salvationists are not prevented from being baptised in other churches should they so desire.”iii

The Quakers, as the Salvation Army notes, have long taken the stand that what happens inside a person is more important than what happens outside. The Quakers see themselves on a mission to go back to primitive Christianity whereas they view Christianity in the modern world as one of ‘Form Without Substance’.iv If you listen to the speaker talk on the site referenced below you’ll hear him talk about the working of the Spirit – being led of the Spirit, and how that was elementary to the primitive church. Their objection is to the use of ritual practices as a sign of what is going on inside.  They, like the Salvation Army, reject the mainline churches position on Sacraments as being too much concerned with what is going on outside, and not emphasizing enough what is going on inside.

Also, it is significant to note that the protests of these groups is only on the outward ritual, not on the inward experience what happens to us when we become Christians.

ihttps://www.fgcquaker.org/explore/faqs-about-quakers#Christian

iihttp://www.salvationarmy.org.au/en/Who-We-Are/About-Us/FAQ/

iiihttp://www.waterbeachsalvationarmy.org.uk/what-to-know-more/why-does-the-salvation-army-not-baptise-or-hold-communion/

ivForm Without Substance – https://www.fgcquaker.org/resources/form-without-substance

Biblical references are from the ASV version unless otherwise noted.
Posts and articles © copyright Mark W Smith 2007 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mark W Smith and OriginalChristianity.Net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. You can reach Mark by emailing Mark at OriginalChristianity.net.

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