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…”

Holiness, Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the definition of the word holy: Something that is holy is something that is set apart for God’s purposes. We also looked at how that our call to holiness is a call to good works. We discussed how we are saved by grace and those good works don’t save us. But we are called to be holy.

Now, let’s start by deepening our understanding and look at some of the things called holy in the Bible. Again, holy in the Greek is the word hagios, And it is found 665 times in the English standard version of the Bible.

One of the first things God set apart is the seventh day, the Sabbath. God set apart the seventh day in Genesis. He made it holy:

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Gen 2:3 ESV)

God made some gatherings (assemblies) holy:

On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. (Exo 12:16 ESV)

The Father set some garments and accessories of the priests holy:

These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. (Exo 28:4 ESV)

The Lord made foods holy in the Law. In the Law, a number of things were made holy. We are no longer under the Law, but studying them helps us understand this great concept of holiness:

They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy. (Exo 29:33-34 ESV)

Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. (Lev 7:6 ESV)

The Lord made the firstborn cow, sheep, and goat holy here:

But the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall burn their fat as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (Num 18:17 ESV)

The Lord made the altar holy here:

Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy. (Exo 29:37 ESV)

God made his chosen people, the Israelites, holy:

And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (Isa 62:12 ESV)

He called the nation holy:

and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exo 19:6 ESV)

There is a greeting with a kiss that is called holy:

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (Rom 16:16 ESV)

Apostles and Prophets are called holy:

which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Eph 3:5 ESV)

The above is just a partial list but it illustrates that what the Lord set apart as holy is a long list. The Word talks of Holy covenants, places, districts, prophets, commandments, foods, livestock, and more. So holiness isn’t limited to Sunday Services on church grounds. Holiness is a lifestyle.

Next, set apart from what, you may ask. The Bible tells us that believers are to be set apart from the world, dedicated to the purposes of God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2 ESV)

I have talked with a number of Christians that act like they are still the same person after becoming a Christian, it’s just that now they go to church and have that in their lives. O, they are glad that they have Christ, but to a large degree, they still want to think the same way about things and live the same life. For a lot of things talked about in the Bible they say that its a different culture now than in the Bible. And so they say that we don’t have to do a lot of what the Bible says because there is a different culture now.

As Christians, we are not under the dietary and ceremonial tenets in the Law. But study shows us that the moral law is carried forth into the Church we are all part of. And, besides, the New Testament alone is full of commands telling us how to live holy lives:

The list of New Testament commands is not small, one site online lists 1050 commands. Here are just some highlights: i

Put on Christ (ROM 13:14) 2. Put on the armour of light (ROM 13:12) 3. Put on the new man (EPH 4:24; COL 3:10) 4. Put on the whole armour of God (EPH 6:11,13) 5. Put on the bowels of mercy (COL 3:12) 6. Put on kindness (COL 3:12) 7. Put on humility (COL 3:12) 8. Put on meekness (COL 3:12) 9. Put on longsuffering (COL 3:13) 10. Put on love (COL 3:14) 11. Put on the breastplate of faith and love (1.THESS 5:8) 12. Put on the hope of salvation (1.THESS 5:8)

Put away lying (EPH 4:25). Put away all bitterness (EPH 4:31). Put away wrath (EPH 4:31). Put away anger (EPH 4:31). Put away clamour (EPH 4:31). Put away evil speaking (EPH 4:31). Put away all malice (EPH 4:31).

1. Put off the old man (EPH 4:22; COL 3:9) 2. Put off anger (COL 3:8) 3. Put off wrath (COL 3:8) 4. Put off malice (COL 3:8) 5. Put off blasphemy (COL 3:8) 6. Put off filthy conversation (COL 3:8)

Let not the wife depart from her husband (1.COR 7:10) 8. Let not the husband put away his wife (1.COR 7:11) 9. Let not the Christian put away the unsaved companion who wishes to remain (1.COR 7:12,13) 10. Let not the sun go down on wrath (EPH 4:26) 11. Let not fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting be mentioned among you as becometh saints (EPH 5:3-4)

These things were not written by some theologian from a tradition other than your churches’ that you may disagree with. Every statement above, every command, was written by the apostle Paul in his letters to us as Christians. The above are just some of the things that are found in the New Testament. I say that because it is true that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, fulfilled the law. And so it is correct to say that just because it’s in the law that doesn’t mean it applies to us as Christians after the law is fulfilled. But the amount of commands, the amount of charges that we as believers are charged to do is huge.

So, what is the difference between living now, and living under the law, if there is still over 1000 commands that we need to follow? The difference is that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and mediates between us and the father. The burden of the law was heavy. Some sins required the death penalty. There is no death penalty now because of Christ’s sacrifice. His life paid the penalty for us all. But not so that we could just live conformed to the world in sin and not care. The abundant life that Jesus came to make available, the joy, the peace, the love, all the fruit of the spirit that is available to us as born-again believers is available to us as we walk in the spirit, striving against sin, dedicating ourselves to live the holy lives that God calls us to do.

iChristian Assemblies International, 1050 New Testament Commands, located at https://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201407/r1308729_17984331.pdf

Holiness, Part 1

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1Pe 1:13-16 ESV)

This is a verse on our charge to be holy. We are called to be holy in all our actions. But what does that mean? The simplest definition of being holy is “Dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. “i

The emphasis of the definition is on God, dedicated to God. As opposed to what, you may ask. As opposed to self, others, things, idols, etc. A phrase often used is “set apart”. Something that is holy is something that is set apart for God’s purposes.

Holiness is a fundamental part of being a Christian. It’s basic to Christianity. Holy in the Greek is the word hagios, and it is a major topic in the bible. It is found 665 times in the English standard version of the Bible. Again, holy means to set apart, dedicated to God’s purposes.

We are charged with being holy. The above verse compares a person living according to the passions of their former life, i.e., before they were Christian, with afterward. So the point is that we’re not supposed to live according to our old passions, but we are supposed to live in obedience to the Lord in our conduct.

So, what we have is a comparison, a before and after. That comparison is right at what the definition of the word holy tells us.

Now, before we go deeper, doesn’t that sound like works? After all, we have heard that we are saved by grace, not by works. Yes, that is true. We are not saved by our works. We are saved by grace:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Eph 2:8-9 ESV)

But we are called to good works as the next verse after the above verses declare:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10 ESV)

Our works can never save us, but the life of the believer is doing the works that the Lord has prepared for us.

Doing works that God has set apart for us to do is how we are holy in the conduct of our daily lives.

That is a simple look at holiness. We are going to look at it in more detail in part two on this topic.

ihttps://www.lexico.com/en/definition/holy

H2 Born Gay: Scientific Fact or False Idol of Bad Science?

The science of whether sexual orientation is biological is pretty sparse and full of disparate, mixed and unreplicated findings.i

I’ll get right to the point. The above line from a USA Today article challenges the simple rallying cry of the gay rights movement, born gay, that is the basis for the huge shift in both the cultural and political attitude towards the LGBTQ community,

The article goes on to elaborate that using that slogan has been “central” to moving the population to their cause, The pro-gay argument is that if people can’t be helped then denying them political rights is wrong.

Christian gay rights activists have extended the logic to how gays should be treated in the church. The Christian gay movement has grown to now include a new theological framework that revises the previous teaching on homosexuality and teaches that homosexual sex in a monogamous marriage is blessed by God. The basis of this is traced back to the born gay mantra. As one pro-gay writer put it, “It’s simply who you are” (so its wrong call the behavior wrong.) ii

The USA Today article further articulates on the born gay debate. It quotes Jane Ward, a university professor and author of Not Gay, Sex Between White Men. Regarding the being born gay issue, Ward says that anyone that supports gay rights has to believe the “born gay” mantra even while many LGBTQ don’t believe it claiming it shouldn’t be necessary for them to have their rights. Ward calls it “almost an obligatory story”. But she further explains that it really isn’t that simple and she says that over time people do take ownership of their queerness (as opposed to being born that way).

The concept that is at stake is fixed versus fluid nature in sexuality. If people are born gay then that sexual nature is fixed. But if it is not fixed then it is called fluid because it can change.

Its a great article (the link is on the endnotes). But, the article dismisses the idea that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice, rather elaborates on the history of the science of sexuality pioneered by Alfred Kinsey and goes on to explain that sexuality is not purely biological but a combination of biology, psychology, and social interaction. Gayness isn’t turned on with a simple decision, rather a complex interaction of biological, social, and psychological factors from the toys kids play with to social interactions to physiological conditions interacting behind the process. Everything points to it being a complicated process scientifically with no clear answers yet. Read the article for all the details but here are some key points.

Identical twins are great cases to show the genetic component involved in an aspect of people lives. The article points out that if one of the twins is gay it is more likely that the other is straight than gay, powerfully suggesting that DNA alone is not determinant in the process that results in a person becoming homosexual.

There are many LGBTQ who do not identify themselves as born gay, rather they say that their sexuality is fluid. They argue that their rights should not need this false slogan, but argue the legitimacy of their cause for other reasons.

Studies that show differences biologically between gay and straight don’t determine whether biology caused the difference or the difference caused the biology. There is an interesting study by Simon Levay of the size of the hypothalamus being different in the autopsies of gay vs straight men that is used to illustrate that point.

This article highlights some of the issues in of same-sex marriage and the promotion of individuals promoting LGBTQ in the church.

Remember, it’s not just Conservatives that cry that the science of “born gay” is flawed, its Pro-Gay groups that argue also that the science is not only not there but shouldn’t be needed. iii “The false belief in biological determinism does considerable damage.” iv The article with that line goes on to say that the reason that scientists and activists alike have promoted this fiction is the fear of the perception that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice. The article also argues the complexity of the process that ends in the way that sexual nature is expressed. This article, by a sociologist, argues heavily on the importance of social construction. In fact, he argues that gender, as well as race for that matter, does have some biological underpinnings, but is more due to social construction than anything else. He cites as an example the Brazilian saying that “money whitens” and enables people of color to move up the social ladder. In the article he calls the born gay argument the “false idol of bad science.”v Yes, the part of the title of this article referring to bad science doesn’t come from a conservative Christian, it refers to a pro gay article written by a sociologist.

This is a huge debate. You can see a pro and con debate side by side at borngay.procon.orgvi. This page is not a debate by average Joes, rather, everyone has a string of initials after their name. The pro side shows actual participants who swear they didn’t make the choice to be gay. They affirm the APA statements ruling homosexuality as normal as scientific proof of the legitimacy of their claim. It includes statements by people who believe that their gayness is absolutely in their DNA.

The Con challenges the scientific basis, begs for the proof of the genetic component of homosexuality and cites the counter cases: people who have changed from gay to straight, the prison phenomenon where individuals become “gay” for their term and then revert to straight when released.

Statements of any type including that homosexuality is not outside the realm of normal behavior by the APA and the AMA are not scientific proof. They are opinions of people with training in their field. Scientific proof requires tests that show reproducible results in a laboratory. Not too long ago both groups had very different stances on this and a host of issues. Of course, everyone believes that both medical science and psychology have advanced with the times. And I certainly go to the doctor and have talked with psychologists, both with good results, although, like a lot of people, not always. But these are organizations that in my lifetime, while I was young, performed vibrator treatments on women to cure hysteria and lobotomies to cure mental illness. My point is that these groups have always been capable of promoting policies that everyone now agrees are unsound. To use their statements now as scientific proof to revise biblical interpretation is at the very least, premature. People don’t normally go to a medical doctor or psychologist for spiritual advice, and this area is no exception.

Sexual issues are very powerful, and complicated. Consequently, they are very hard to deal with. The multiplicity of issues involved in the LGBTQ world are no exception.

The above statement does not mean they are beyond God’s power. As Christians, we say we believe that God has the power to change, to heal, and to deliver. Programs and examples that haven’t worked are not proof that God can’t work in this powerful, emotional, complicated area.

Consequently, Pro-gay Christian proponents that argue the born gay argument and say that the homosexuality as sin doctrine has to be revised because it produces the negative fruits of depression, despair, and even suicide because they were born that way are misguided. That argument only holds if it’s really true that gays are born that way. Not only is there not any proof to justify that position, but counter-proofs like the existence of ex-gays, the testimony of scientists including pro-gay scientists that teach that sexuality is fluid and the testimony of some current gays that sexuality is not fixed besides all these ex-gays professing that fact all lead to the conclusion that the born Gay slogan has been a powerful argument that is still heavily promoted, but is, in fact, fiction.

iUSA Today article “’Born that way’? It’s way more complicated than that dated June 15, 2017 and updated April 10, 2018 located at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/born-way-many-lgbt-community-its-way-more-complex/395035001/

iiGod and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines, Convergent Books, New York, 2014, p. 29

iiiAeon, Why Should Gay Rights Depend on Being Born This Way?, at https://aeon.co/essays/why-should-gay-rights-depend-on-being-born-this-way

ivIbid

vIbid

vihttps://borngay.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001335

Biblical references are from the ASV version unless otherwise noted.
Posts and articles © copyright Mark W Smith 2007 - 2019. 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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