Changes in Christianity
This article looks at the Major Changes that were made in Christian
teachings after the time of the Apostles, as well as Why & When they were Made.
at the Ancient Wisdom as it has been revealed to us through many ancient records, as well as the through the writings of the
later Saints and Mystics, it is clear that most modern Christian groups only believe a fraction of the original teaching of
Christ. In fact it has to be said that most of the concepts He propounded have been so changed over the centuries that in
many cases the teachings of modern denominations would be quite unrecognizable to His Apostles and their first hearers. And
lest any should question this fact, let them ask themselves which of the many modern denominations best reflect His teachings,
let alone has preserved them unchanged? Western Christianity in particular has seen many alterations.Changes have been made at various times in the history of Western Christianity,
often most dramatic changes and unfortunately modern denominations have all been affected by at least some of them.
have, however, been a few historians who have made a consistent effort over many years to uncover the original concepts
and today we can begin to piece together that Original Wisdom as it once existed. Not that any can claim that
the task has been done – far from it, for we can ony be certain of that when Christ comes again. Yet what is discussed
here, can be asserted with moderate certainty. .
list of changes set out in the Table above is certainly not complete, but it is provided in order to give an indication of
their variety and scope. They were made for various reasons - some were undoubtedly worthy – others certainly were not.
Nevertheless all those changes that are included in this chapter, have played and in many cases still do play, a significant
part in the corruption of the faith once delivered to the saints and which through their studies many earnest seekers are
trying to restore to its pristine purity.
Second Coming of Christ
the most important belief of the Early Christians was based upon the promise of Christ that He would come again. Initially
this was seen simply as the physical Return of Jesus Himself in power and glory, but otherwise in the same form that he had
appeared to His Apostles after the Resurrection – in other words in a physical body that could be touched and handled
and could eat solid food. There is little doubt too, that in the first few decades this Return of Christ was expected to take
place within a few years or at most a few decades, for at one point Christ had said that “This generation shall not
pass away, till all be fulfilled”.(St Luke 21; 32) and this was seen to refer to His Second Coming. In common Jewish parlance a generation was forty years, and therefore
His Coming was expected within that period. However, a careful study of the preceding
verses shows that Christ had been asked about and was referring to the Destruction of Jerusalem, which did indeed take place
forty years after the Crucifixion.
then, did this mistake occur? The short answer is that it was not entirely a mistake! Butalthough much could be written on
the subject, for the present it will suffice to say merely that Christ and His army was seen in the clouds above the stricken
city just before its fall (Josephus; Wars; 5; 5; 3). Many of the earlier New Testament
prophecies that look for Christ’s Coming in Judgement can also be seen as referring to this incident, which to the original
Judaeo-Christians indeed heralded the end of the Jewish world.
the Fall of Jerusalem, however, the belief in the Second Coming began to be progressively modified, among Gentile Christians
until today an enormous range of views exists. In many cases ideas vary even within the same denomination, but unlike many
other doctrines, at least in this case the original view has survived, though it is only one out of many. The same cannot generally be said of what was probably the first
major spiritual concept to be abandoned – the Belief that God is All in All, that Mankind was made in the Image of God
and in particular that within the Godhead there must be a Female Principle as well as a Male. Let us therefore next consider
the subject of the Motherhood of God as it was believed in Christ’s day and how and why this knowledge was lost.
is little doubt that among the Jews God was once seen to embody both Male and Female Principles aud in fact there are
a number of Old Testament references which support this contention. There is no doubt too, that Christ Himself saw the Divine
Wisdom as His Mother as well as the Mother of other human beings and He makes this plain in St Luke 7; 33 - 35:
John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and
drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children..
Hebrew, as well as in those languages that derive from it, such as Aramaic, the word for Spirit is basically female in gender
and in those Churches that used Aramaic as their language, the Holy Spirit was linked with the Feminine Aspect of the Godhead,
at least until the 4th century (See the writins of Aphrahat, the 4th century
Persian Church Father) Graeco-Roman Christianity, however, found it hard to promote belief in the Divine Mother.
Nor was this entirely connected with the fact that in Greek the word for Spirit is neuter gender, whilst in Latin it is masculine,
though a belief in the Feminine Aspect has usually been weakest in the Western or Latin-speaking part of the Empire. There
was a more practical reason that this teaching was quickly abandoned in the West.
Christianity left its Jewish womb it suddenly found itself exposed to an army of other faiths, prominent among which were
a range of Fertility Cults. Most of these were based upon the perceived need to fertilize both the soil and the flocks and
consequently emphasized sex to a greater or lesser degree. Many involved armies of priestess-prostitutes who as their service
to the Deity offered themselves to worshippers for a fee, which was then donated to the temple authorities. In addition to
the worship of a Great Mother Goddess, these cults also included various stories of a Dying God , whose death was necesary
to ensure the fertilization of the Goddess, but who rose again in the Spring to repeat the process each year. As Christianity
already had a “Dying God”, Who had Risen Again in the Spring, any significant promotion of the worship of the
Female Aspect of the Godhead, could very easily have led to the Early Church
being considered to be merely just one out of many Fertility Cults.
Christianity could not abandon the Story of the Resurrection which unlike other similar tales was based on historical fact. Rightly or wrongly it chose rather to abandon the concept of a Divine Mother, at least in the West,
from about the end of the 1st century onwards. Outside the Roman Empire the same imperative did not exist, for
although they had once flourished in Babylon, by this period fertility cults were of only minor importance in the Parthian
Empire whose principle religion was Zoroastrian dualism. It is likely that it was this fact, even more than the Feminine gender
of the word for Spirit in Aramaic that allowed this knowledge to persist far longer in the East – certainly until the
Moslem conquest of the 7th century, and in China,
possibly even longer.
Creation of all
significant change concerned beliefs about the nature of the Creation of All Things. Originally seen by the Jews as a specific
Act of God, followed by an ordered evolutionary process, Creation gradually came to be viewed as a number of specific acts
or Groups of Acts occurring over a literal six-day period. The beginnings of this concept can be traced back to about the
time of the Bar Kochba revolt (132) and from then onwards as Judaeo-Christianity
declined it became steadily more common-place. This change was resisted by Origen and others, but finally became generally
accepted after the Fall of the Age.
reasons for its gradual acceptance in Christianity seem to be linked with Gnosticism which saw the process of Creation as
a deliberate procession of acts or "emanations" by an antagonistic Creator God or Demiurge rather than by the God of Christianity.
Early Christianity insisted that God was the only Creator, aided by His Word and His Holy Spirit. However, the opposition
of Gnostics to the Old Testament and everything in it gradually led Christian Apologists, who were forced to defend it, to
take a more and more literal view of everything that it contained. Although this change began through the conflict with Gnosticism
it gradually became blended with the later doctrine of “Original Sin” and in fact provided an ideal background
for it as we shall see in due course.
accepted by Jews and Christians as well as various Pagan philosophers until at least the 3rd century, the belief
that a Spark of the Divine Essence was to be found within each human soul was dropped largely as a reaction to Gnostic views that the Divine Spark was somehow imprisoned within
the earthly body. Although a very similar concept had existed in early Christianity, it was gradually abandoned as increasingly
involved philosophical discussions about the nature of the soul gradually obscured this essentially mystical concept and it fell
from favour during the early 4th century and the years which followed. It was not however, replaced by any other
generally accepted view about the origin of the soul and even today there is no broad concensus on the subject among modern
Christian denominations, who it must be remembered do not generally believe in reincarnatiuon.
suggest that the soul originates only with the conception of the body, and in effect stems from that act. Logically this view
makes it hard to suggest that the soul does not also die with the death of the body and some groups actually admit this and
therefore do not believe in the immortality of the soul. Others contend that each soul is specially created by God for that
particular incarnation, but if that is so, it is hard to defend the doctrine of Original Sin, for how shall that which has
just been specially created by God be called sinful? This is a broad subject and one that must be addressed elsewhere, but
there is little doubt that the uncertainty leaves a gaping hole in the beliefs of many Christians.
various forms a belief in Reincarnation was accepted by Jews, early Christians and most Pagan groups during the Apostolic
Age, and there are a number of indications that it was generally accepted among Christians at least until the 3rd
century. Among Church Fathers, perhaps the best known exponent of this belief was the great Origen himself, and throughout
the following century his supporters, such as St Basil, Rufinus and St Jerome,
fought a losing battle against the teachings of Zoroaster, but seems to have entered Christianity through Manichaeanism
- effectively an off-shoot of the old Persian religion.
to this cosmology, the Good God and the Evil God, had each existed from all Eternity in his own realm in which he was supreme.
But although each hated the other, they could not join battle till they created Earth and the human race, a few thousand years before the time of Zoroaster. Earth was a place which each could influence and as each tried to do so,
the conflict between them began. Each human was put on earth and each God tried to win him/her to His cause.
who followed the Good God could expect to go to heaven after death where they would become Angels or good spirits in His Army,
and remain there for ever, in bliss. Those who followed the Evil God would become devils or demons in his army and be consigned
to eternal torment.
to the Zoroastrian and also to the Manichaean, life represented a simple choice. If he followed the Good God, he would only
have to do so for this one earth life, after which he could expect to enjoy eternal bliss, but could never improve his lot
any further after death. The reverse applied to those who followed the Evil God. For them too, their fate was fixed irrevocably
at death and they could never ameliorate it therafter. Many aspects of this cosmology were introduced to Western Christianity
through its confrontation with Manichaeism in the early 5th century, which in fact was the major period of such
changes and many, though by no means all, such new ideas came from Manichaeism as will be demonstrated in the next few pages.
because of the widespread respect given to Origen who had supported the Doctrine of Reincarnation, it was not until the opposition
of the Emperor Justinian led to his writings being anathematized by the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 that it faded from theological view. This seems to have been mainly because it was associated with Origen
for it is not specifically identified in the Anathamatisms, but Origen himself became generally discredited from this time
onwards. This was especially true in the Greek Orthodox Churches where the Emperor Justinian is still held in high regard.
In the Roman Church where Justinian is not liked, Origen is much less criticized.
both, however, athough it was never officially condemned and sometimes revived again in later times, the Doctrine of Reincarnation
must be considered to have been dropped from general teaching during the 4th to 6th centuries. It seems
to have remained in Far Eastern Christianity for longer, certainly until the Moslem conquest of Persia,
(7th century) and further East among Chinese Christians probably until
the Chinese Church
faded from history in the 13th or 14th centuries. As to why such a logical and widespread doctrine should
have been dropped, the same basic reason as for other changes must be invoked. The Age was ending and more primitive souls
required a more basic philosophy. It is even possible to dramatise it thus
“If you were to say to a barbarian chief, ‘The way you’re going it
will be many more lives before you’ll get to Heaven. Why don’t you stop all this killing and plundering so you
can get there a bit quicker?’ He’d probably say ‘I quite like what I’m doing. I think I’ll reform
a few lives hence!’ But if you said to him ‘If you don’t reform in this life, as soon as you die, you’ll
go to Hell and burn there for ever and ever”, he’d be more likely to do something about it.”
may well have been the most important reason for the loss of the doctrine of Reincarnation, which, in terms of its effect
on subsequent Christianity, is probably the most significant of all the changes that occurred at this time. There were others,
however, and a number of them were at least partly linked to this sacrifice of the Doctrine of Reincarnation.
Satan as an Enemy of God
at least the 3rd century (according to Pseudoclement) the Jewish concept of Satan as “the Accuser” who tempted & tested mankind but only as permitted
by God, was widely accepted in Christianity. Thereafter it was gradually lost or rather, increasingly blended with the Manichaean belief in an Anti-god
until by the end of the 5th Century the self-contradictory concept that a Being created Perfect by an Omnipotent God was somehow both foolish enough to rebel against Him
and wicked enough to do, seems to have become well established.
this was because it too was a simple concept that could easily be presented to barbaric peoples who were used to merciless
warfare. They could accept that God had an enemy – they had enemies of their own; they could easily be led to see themselves
as God’s servants helping to fight His enemy, just as they fought the enemies of their own chieftain without question
or debate. They were not used to challenging or questioning authority and therefore they did not stop to question why, if
God was so powerful, He had not destroyed His enemy long before. Furthermore their teachers realised that as long as they
fought against the temptations of this “enemy” the inaccuracy of the knowledge about him was of only minor significance.
was not until education began to lead average people to think rationally from about the mid 19th century onwards,
that the inherent illogicality of the concept became generally apparent and amidst a welter of further modifications many
people came to abandon all belief in a “Power of Evil”, opposed to God, something that has clearly led to many
abuses in the modern era.
early Church had believed that God wished all men to be saved and that eventually His Will would prevail, a view that was
still being actively promoted by Gregory of Nyssa at the end of the 4th century, but from 5th century
onwards this began to change, as obviously it had to, if the threat of Hell was to be an effective means of controlling the
Barbarian tribes. Augustine’s efforts to explain Salvation through the Sacrifice of Christ without a belief in karma
led to his claim that Divine Grace alone was needful for Salvation and that no human effort was necessary. “Grace”
was effectively another name for the “accumulated Good Karma” that Christ had earned by His Sacrifice on the Cross,
but according to Augustine’s followers, Grace made effort unnecessary.
many years, the full implications of this concept were concealed by the medieval Church but as society became better educated, this changed. The Renaissance led to the Reformation and eventually
the idea developed into Predestinationism. In one sense, of course, this belief was not new, for it was inherent in the Apostolic
Teaching that all will eventually Return to God whence they came. In such a doctrine, however, its ramifications are very
different, for in that case one can be assured of ultimate salvation no matter how long it takes. However, when Predestiantionism
is combined with a belief in perpetual damnation for even some human souls, it assumes a diabolical aspect. It had long taught
that whilst some would go to Heaven, others would be consigned to Hell for all Eternity.and Medieval Christianity had long
abandoned the concept of salvation for all when Protestantism began to experiment with Predestinationism.,
belief that an all-powerful and benevolent God would permit even some of His Children to be consigned to everlasting torment
for sins that no matter how bad had occupied only a limited period of time, was monstrous enough, but when combined with Predestinationism
it became far worse. It inferred that God selected certain souls for perpetual damnation, not as a punishment for doing wrong,
but on a purely arbitrary basis - a view which if not blasphemous is clearly very close to it. And this is what is meant the
Doctrine of Predestination. It makes it plain either that either;
- God is not good.
- God is not all-powerful, or
- The belief in Perpetual damnation is false.
the last alternative is correct, but as Perpetual Damnation was the basis on which Medieval Christainity had been founded,
the Church could hardly abandon it. Protestantism may have been wrong about many things, but with Pre-destinationism it came
very close to demonstrating the hollowness of Medieval Christianity. However a millennium of conditioning was not so easily
discarded and the proponents of Predestinationism had been thoroughly indoctrinated and could not do so. However they were
so horrified at the alternative implications that they abandoned the doctrine, which is not taught by any mainstream Protestant
group today, despite the fact that it is inherent in basic Protestant theology. But neither did they did return to a
belief in Reincarnation - the medieval proponents of Perpetual Damnation had done their work too well.
minor variations, belief in an Afterlife comprising a range of states – Blessed, Intermediate and Punishment - was generally
accepted among Jews, Christians and Pagans alike until it started to be replaced by the Zoroastrian concept of a simple choice
between Heaven or Hell during the 5th century A.D. However, unlike some other aspects of the Ancient Wisdom, the
old belief in some form of Intermediate state that one entered immediately after death was not readily lost. Both the Old
and New Testaments contained references to ghosts and spirits and there was too much support for the belief in Scripture as
well as in normal human experience, for the belief to be totally suppressed. Nor apparently did the Church really wish to
do so! It merely wished to emphasise its new teaching that there was only one earthly incarnation in which man could choose
to serve God or the Devil and that one had to repent of one’s sins before death because once one had died, one’s
ultimate destiny was settled and no amount of effort, repentance or prayer could then change it. There was not even any point
in people on earth praying for the dead!
Doctrine of Purgatory was devised in order to make this point and like many of the changes that occurred at this time its
origins are largely due to the work of St Augustine. It is
in fact merely a surviving remnant of the broad and detailed understanding of Life after Death that had characterised the
Ancient Wisdom of Christ and His Apostles, but for about another thousand years, it served to obscure the illogical starkness
of the choice between Heaven and Hell from all but the most advanced thinkers. In the Roman Catholic Church, even today Purgatory
is still seen basically as a place where those who are not good enough for Heaven nor bad enough for Hell, are gradually purged
of their remaining sins through suffering so that they may eventually be found worthy of Heaven. Those who go to Hell are
seen to be beyond hope and therefore no prayers can help them.
of the Eastern Orthodox Churches have a somewhat different view of life after death. They too believe in an intermediate state,
but many see it as merely a foretaste of either Heaven or Hell, rather than a place of purging. In actual fact both views
are correct, and a combination of the two offers a closer reflection of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom than does either
idea of Original Sin is another concept that can be traced
to Augustine and although some claim to be able to detect inferences in the works of earlier writers, there is no doubt that
it was from his time and based on his reputation that it achieved its later general acceptance in the Western Church. Even so it was not universally
welcomed and must be said to have replaced the Doctrine of Reincarnation only gradually between the 5th and 8th
centuries. We today tend to find it unsatisfactory as an explanation for many aspects of life, or even laughable, but in its
day it was in fact a brilliant compromise, a philosophical adaptation of the Laws of karma that could be supported without
a belief in reincarnation! Based on the Greek theory of reproduction it argued
that if a historical Adam once sinned, then within him at that moment there dwelt every succeeding generation of the human
race, who thus shared in that sin. Inferring the historicity of an allegorical figure, just as 19th
century rationalists sought to allegorise away the historical Jesus, the Doctrine of Original Sin claimed that by being
physically present within the body of Adam when he fell, every succeeding generation of humans shared in the karma of that
Fall and needed to be cleansed therefrom by baptism. In an uneducated and
uncritical age the idea became generally accepted and gradually led to a belief that the Fall of Adam was a historical event.
Earlier writers, such as Origen had generally seen the Biblical narrative of Adam and Eve as allegorical,
and he was clearly contemptuous of those who even in his day suggested otherwise. In his “First Principles” 4: 16, he writes
“Who would be so childish as to
think that God was like a human gardener and planted a paradise in Eden.
. . . .. . . I cannot think that anyone would dispute that these things are said in the figurative sense, in an effort to
reveal certain mysteries by means of an apparent historical tale and not by something that actually took place. . . . .
the very existence of this passage indicates that even in his days (Mid 3rd century)
there were some who thought in this way, and in fact a number of Gnostic groups had accepted such views from the late 1st
century onwards. Not should this surprise us, for stories of a primordial couple are found in many mythologies and it is hard
to be sure exactly when the Biblical story first became linked with them, but the belief may even have predated Gnosticism.
Possibly it stems from as early as the days of the Hasidim, whose commentaries on the Old Testament were only part of a tendency
to introduce a number of Zoroastrian and Pagan Greek concepts into Judaism from about the 4th century B.C. onwards.
It is also likely that it was during this period and seeking to demonstrate that their nation was older than either, that
the Jews began to number their years from the supposed date of the Creation of the world. This dating system which remained
in general use throughout the Western world until at least the 7th century A.D., placed the Crucifixion of Christ
in the year 5226 A.M.
abbreviation means “Annus Mundi”, the year of the world, and as the Crucifixion is usually placed in 30 A.D.,
this means that the date of Creation was placed in about 5195 B.C. Thus although the idea of a historical Adam had been around
for centuries it was only through the introduction of the Doctrine of Original Sin, that it acquired a religious significance,
and perhaps strangely it seems that it was not until the time of Luther that the story of Adam was definitively linked with
the Creation of the World at the specific date usually accorded it by modern fundamentalists. In the 16th century
Luther placed in 4000 B.C. – more than a thousand years later than the ancients. Thus, in the sense in which modern fundamentalists use the term, the idea of a Historical Adam derives
mainly from the 16th century.
Procession of the Holy Spirit
the time of its establishment as the official religion of the Roman Empire, (late 4th century) Graeco-Roman Christianity,
and especially its Latin-speaking West, was pre-occupied with the need to divert Christian theology from its original mystical
nature into a more legalistic framework, and in particular it devoted much time to trying to define the Nature of God, which
is obviously an impossibility and almost a contradiction in terms. Most of the disagreements within later Western Christianity
derive from this tendency, which in many cases produced fine legal definitions without regard for spiritual reality or the
original Apostolic teaching! At other times, owing to the previous loss of some Aspect of the Ancient Wisdom it led to an
even greater departure from the Truth on the part of one or more groups.
Doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son is the result of one such error. Christ had said that She proceeds
from the Father (St John 15; 26) but in the 8th century the ill-educated
barbarian clergy who supported the armies of Charlemagne decided that this was an insult to the Son and that the Holy Ghost
should also be said to proceed from Him. In this context, the term “proceed” virtually means “to emanate
from” and what was being suggested here is that the Holy Ghost emanated not from the Father as Christ had said, but from the Father and the Son jointly. The term “emanate” is widely used in Gnostic theology,
for which reason it is not employed in Christian theology, but for most practical purposes the meaning of “proceed”
is the same.
physical terminology it is obviously impossible for one Person to proceed from Another except in the way that a child proceeds
from its parent. And as Christ was already acknowledged to have been Begotten by the Father before all worlds, there was no
reason that as the Apostle’s Creed stated, He should not have been said to have also been Conceived by the Holy Ghost,
also before all worlds. However, this new “Dual Procession Doctrine” reversed this position, something that
would never have been considered if the Holy Spirit has still been regarded as the Divine Mother.
although the Orthodox Churches, too, had generally forgotten that the Holy Ghost is Feminine, they were not so foolish as
to change the Creed to suggest that the Holy Ghost could proceed from Two Male Persons. This is because such a concept effectively
denies Her Personality, and thus defines Her as merely the Active Force of God in the world, rather than as the Third Person
of the Trinity. It is of course perfectly proper to suggest that Both the Father and the Son ACT THROUGH the Holy Spirit in
the world. Unfortunately, however, this is not the sole, or even the main, logical development of this theology; it actually
infers that the Holy Spirit is not a Divine Person at all, but merely a Force emanating from Either or Both of the Other Two
Divine Persons. This view is now promulgated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and some other modern groups but in general,
the Western Church
has never accepted this logical development of the Dual Procession idea.
proposal of Charlemagne’s clergy did not initially receive much support in the Roman Church hierarchy and the doctrine
was not generally accepted even in the West until about the 10th century. Even this reluctant acceptance can be
largely attributed only to a lack of understanding of the process of Creation, and in particular to ignorance of the Feminine
Nature of the Holy Spirit. It was introduced, through a misguided desire to honour God the Son, rather than with an appreciation
of the theology involved and was never accepted by the better educated clergy of the East.
is a big subject, but we have already spent overlong on it for our present purposes and it is now time for us to consider
another major change that was introduced in the West soon afterwards, but which was also rejected in the East.
Celibacy of the Clergy
were a number of differences between the Church in the Byzantine Empire and its Latin countepart
as they gradually drifted apart in the 9th to 11th centuries. One of the most significant was the attitude
towards celibacy of the clergy. In the Far East (Persian Church) it had never been acccepted, but in the Greek-speaking Byzantine
Churches celibacy had long been recognised as a form of sacrifice appropriate to the spiritual way of life and from about
the 5th century onwards bishops of the Orthodox Churches (but not in Far Eastern Christianity)
have usually been chosen from among those who had made such a commitment. However, it was never widespread among the lesser
Greek clergy and in most cases the local priest married and raised children, one of whom might well succeed his father as
the village priest. This in fact was usually encouraged and is still the case in many Eastern Orthodox Churches today.
the West celibacy among priests was initially encouraged and finally made compulsory in the 12th century. However, although the same spiritual principles were invoked to justify this decision, the main reason
for the change seems to have been financial rather than spiritual. Uunmarried Priests could be expected to leave their personal
assets to the Church after death, whilst those who were married would leave their property to their children. At least partly
as a result of this decision the Latin Church became increasingly wealthy over the next few centuries. It acquired great estates
and magnificent buildings, as well as gold and other wealth all of which contributed to the magnificence of the Roman Curia
and the medieval decadence that led to the Reformation, a problem that was largely avoided in the East.
the biggest problem with this doctrine is that, because it denies the importance of women in the spiritual life of the Church,
it has led to a denigration of marriage as a Sacrament.
It has also resulted,in most modern churches either refusing to allow women to take any major role in
worship, or trying to get them to play the same role as men, neither of which is appropriate and certainly does not continue
the Apostolic Tradition.
the Early Church, Apostolic Authority had
always been regarded as essential in any Church, and it was not until after the Great Schism between the Greek- and Latin-speaking Churches that this was first seriously challenged by the Waldenses
in the 12th to 16th centuries and the Lollards from the 14th onwards. When Constantinople
fell in the Turks in the 15th and the Renaissance burst over Western Europe, these
minor rumblings errupted into the Reformation proper.
actual dispute pitted the often-abused Apostolic Authority of the generally worldly clergy of the Latin Church against well-educated
and usually sincere lay scholars. In general most clergy and certainly most senior clergy refused to join the new movement,
and at least partly as a result of this lack of bishops, the Reformers by and large, turned to the Bible as their source of spiritual authority.
Bible was basically the same as that which had been used throughout the Western
Church for a thousand years, but translated yet again, this time into
the vernacular. In other words it was a collection of books that had themselves been selected and edited by the Apostolic
Authority of previous bishops. Obviously this was at best a compromise position, but since that time, Protestants in general
have invested this Bible with all the Authority previously accorded to the successors of the Apostles.
one cannot dispute the value of the Bible as a source of inspiration, any more than did the Apostles themselves. However,
parts of the the Bible can be interpreted in many different ways and because it uses the Bible as its only source of authority,
Protestantism quickly fragmented into many different sects. Furthermore it is plain that ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL a priest
or bishop who speaks with the Inspiration and Authority of Christ will be better able to interpret the Bible correctly than
one who, lacking that authority can only rely his own intellect as do Protestant scholars.
Early Protestants rejected many Church teachings but perhaps the most serious of the changes they made was the abolition of
the Sacraments, that for a millennium and a half had been the spiritual life of the Church. Most were rejected completely,
although some Protestants still speak of two – Baptism and Communion - but they have removed many key parts of both
rites and do not believe in their spiritual and mystical aspects. In Baptism the most obvious change is the abolition of exorcism
and anointing, whilst where Communion is concerned they do not believe in transubstantiation at all and see the service merely
as a commemoration of Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary.
Heaven or Hell & Nothing Else
modification that developed mainly from the 16th century onwards is the belief that after death the soul can only
pass to either Eternal Heaven or Eternal Hell. Before that time a belief in an intermediate state, called Purgatory (See above) modified this Zoroastrian doctrine within Western Christianity but during the Reformation even this
simplified concept was rejected.up with another
delaying idea. Today many Protestants see no choice but Heaven or Hell – in other words, those that do ill will
go to Hell and there be tormented for ever, whilst those who do good will go to Heaven. The ultimate problem with this concept
is the fact that the dividing line has to be drawn somewhere and nobody can claim to say just where this is. Consequently
instead of welcoming death as a merciful release from the struggles of earthly life, or even seeing it as the precursor to
Eternal Life as did those who believed in the Authority of the Church to allow them to enter therein, most Protestants, even
those who were quite devout, came to see Death as at least potentially the Gateway to Hell, and developed a terrible fear
fear has become endemic in Western Society, largely as the result of the loss of the Ancient Knowledge of Life After Death
and of the availability of Reincarnation for those who failed to reach their Goal. But instead of restoring these teachings,
many Protestant groups introduced another modification to this grim choice of Heaven or Hell. Perhaps in an attempt to obscure
the sharpness of the distinction but without restoring a belief in any form of Intermediate state, they introduced a novel
The Dead in a Coma
idea suggests that the dead will not pass to Heaven or Hell immediately after their deaths – rather they will remain
in some form of suspended animation or coma an idea that of course completely ignores all the Biblical referenes to ghosts
or spirits of the dead, It is suggested that this state will persist until a Day of Resurrection an idea that is certainly
older than Christianity and probably much older. It exists in the works of many pre-Christian philosophies in various forms,
but it has basically been seen as a time of judgement – one rises to judgement just as on earth one might be called
to approach the bench of a Court for sentence. Within Christianity, Resurrection and Judgement have usually been seen
under two different guises – as a personal judgement taking place immediately after death when one is raised in one’s
new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15; 44) and as a general Judgement of both the
Living and the Dead at the Second Coming of Christ, when one is raise up in that Spirit Body to see if it will be glorified
both of these views are basically correct, though many of the fanciful details that are sometimes added to them are clearly
imaginary. We are all judged or assessed continuously, in the sense that the karma we bring upon ourselves comes upon us,
but at key points in our journey, such an assessment is more general. In particular, such a judgement comes whenever we begin
our new life on the Astral or Spirit Planes, or perhaps it would be better to say that we all judge ourselves at that time,
we see wherein we have failed, and are shown what we will need to do to correct our errors.
a broader sense it is also true that at key points in world history a more widespread judgement takes place, when both nations
and individuals are assessed – empires rise and fall, so-called natural disasters decimate provinces, or famine or disease
affects whole continents. But the most significant of these great Judgements are those which are linked with the Visits of
the Salvator. Then the whole world is judged and all those in it, as are also the souls in the Astral and Spirit Planes. In
fact as Christ descends to those realms before He comes to earth they are judged first (1
Thessalonians 4; 16) though obviously there is not a lot of time between one and the other.
beginning after the Reformation and peaking in the 19th century a number of groups chose to ignore the first of
these “judgements” or to see it merely as a prelude to a period of suspended animation, and then to consider that
that “sleep” would only cease with the Last Judgement at Christ’s Coming, which in many cases they linked
with the end of the world. (And as most of them do not believe that there is life on
other planets, with the end of time as well!) Such groups may well have persuaded their followers that none of their loved
ones are yet in Hell, but merely sleeping, but they will have done little to assuage the fear of death or the grief of those who think that they
have lost their loved ones for ever. As a result many of their members either come to resent and reject those teachings, and
often with them, all desire for religion, or by accepting them may welll retard their own potential future spiritual
for the most part, Western Society has outgrown the need for the crude concepts of Medieval Christainity and most of its members
are many lives past the need for such a blatant attempt to scare them into righteousness, but there is no doubt that such
harsh views may well have played a role in the training of primitive souls after the Fall of the Last Age. Therefore, although
the earnest seeker will obviously reject most of thes ideas let us realise that each had played its part in the spiritual
development fo the human race, and extend our love and tolerance to any who still find it hard to look beyond them.
is self-contradictory because if God made Satan perfect, how did he sin, whilst if God created him imperfect, the sinning
was clearly derived from that imperfection and therefore caused by God Himself.