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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

So you want to start a new denomination...

In the Acts of the Apostles we hear about the early Church. Yet there are many people today that say that the early Church fell away. Why do they say that?

They say it because they need to justify why their church exists but its historical record is a bit short. Let’s say there is a guy, for example, Joe Smith, who in the 1800’s wants to start a church. He has some problems. Namely, that he is starting his church 1800 years after Jesus supposedly started one. How does he justify starting one so late in time? What reason does he have to start a church that doesn’t historically trace itself back to Christ?

At this point, Joe Smith has some options. Ultimately, he has to deal with one church in particular, that is the Catholic Church. Historically, the Catholic Church is the only one that can trace itself back to Christ and the Apostles.

So what does Joe Smith do? He says that the early church of Acts of the Apostles was persecuted into oblivion and that it stopped existing until he, Joe Smith, restored it. The Catholic Church was the by-product and remains of this true church that was persecuted so long ago. This is the restoration argument. OR he could say that it never stopped existing and that his church can trace itself back through time, but it exists in different times and places under differing names like the Donatists, the Albagensians, and so forth. He is just bringing the church out in the open in his day of the 1800’s. The reason why we haven’t heard of it so much through history is that the Catholic Church was always persecuting it, but finally it can come in the open again. This is the “we always existed in secret” argument. OR he could ignore the Catholic Church altogether and say I am just trying to start a church like they did in Acts of the Apostles. This is the “I am just trying to start my own church and who cares about history” argument. Finally, the most popular of Joe Smith’s arguments is that the early church was the church Jesus started but it fell into error and now we need to fix it. I know thousands of men have come before me and tried to fix it and they did an ok job but now I, yes I, know how to really fix it.

I think the Bible is the best argument against all of these arguments, both the Bible itself and its content.

It is another historical fact that the Bible was put together by Bishops of the Catholic Church. We know they were Catholics because they called themselves Catholic and interpreted scripture exactly like we do today. So however Joe Smith starts his church he is always doing it with the Bible that the Catholic Church put together.

But let’s look at his 4 main arguments for starting a church.
#1 The early church disappeared and now it is getting restored.
- Let’s just think about this for a minute. God creates the world and it falls into sin, so He begins a 4000 year program to set up the world for His Son to become incarnate to die and rise for us, but after 4000 years of set up it all gets destroyed 100 years after it got started? That makes zero sense.
- The Bible clearly says that the Church is being built by God. Listen to the Gamaliel who is a Jew who says(Acts 5) that the Jews should stop persecuting Christians …for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!"
- So according to the Jewish councilman’s argument, if Christianity is from God we will not be able to stop it.
- Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
- Jesus, who is God, would certainly know if the early church was going to survive, if it was going to disappear in a few decades why send them out to all nations knowing that this would be an impossible task? Besides, He says that He will be with them always even till the end of the world. That sounds like it is going to last.

What about Joe Smith’s second “we always existed in secret” argument.
This doesn’t hold up at all because if you study what those groups throughout history believed you find that they disagree fundamentally with what Joe Smith is trying to teach. I have seen a great number of groups point back to the Donatists and claim that they were reformer type people but when you read about what they taught you see that they were super strict Catholics that said if you ever fell away from the faith you could never come back. Joe Smith would disagree with this.

His third argument for starting a new church is that he doesn’t care about history, he just wants to follow the Bible. Again, if we look in scripture we see a model of continuity.
This is what we mean when we say that the Church is Apostolic. It means that we can be traced back to the Apostles. In Acts 1 we see Judas being replaced by Matthias. Listen to what St. Paul says to Timothy. 2 Timothy 2:2 “what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
- That is four generations right there – “what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
- The faith is to be passed on from one person to another. This is how they did it all through the Old Testament through the Apostles even up to our day.

Finally, the fourth and most popular argument of, “the Church’s teachings need fixing and my church will fix them.” This again falls under the weight of scripture.

#1 Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16 – I will build MY church. It is Jesus’ Church. I think He knows how to build.
#2 Jesus told this to the Apostles who held offices that Jesus established:
Luke 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
- To hear Christ’s representatives and to reject them is rejecting Christ Himself, and Christ doesn’t err. Therefore, the Church’s teachings will never wonder into error.


. said...

I am loving your thinly veiled mormon bashing.

Pastor Nick said...

so you are saying that the Catholic Church is the only true church of Jesus. Then you are also saying that every practice of the Catholic church is the truth. Have you seen the abominations that come from within a Catholic church? One the Bible itself states do not entrust your prayers among fallen men...meaning do not pray to the dead. When did the Catholic church start taking exact quotes out of context to fit their doctrine. Also lets take a look at the crusades, or the Salem witch trials, or heck what about the horrible corruption that still exists and has always existed in Catholic churches. My friend the Catholic Church is just one more division among Jesus' church which has no denomination. We all must be of one accord(all on the same page) Do you thunk Jesus is happy with the way His church is fighting amongst themselves? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I will say there have been divisions of the Catholic Church that have NEVER done justice to the Word of God and/or Jesus' Teachings. So I say if you think there is something we missed then by all means try to start a new denomination... BUT... BEWARE, Blessed is the man that heeds the words of this book, and cursed is the man that adds or takes away from this book(Rev) Doctrine is a looking glass to see what God was trying to say. Some get it right and some fail miserably just make sure you follow Jesus teachings to the red letter.

Daniel Egan said...

Dear Pastor Nick,

In brief, the Salem witch trials were done by Calvinists, not Catholics.

If you read my article about "why I am Catholic and think you should be too"

you will see that it is the Catholic Church that put the Bible together. I would be interested in a further discussion if you would be interested. email me at

Anonymous said...

Actually if you'd remember the great schism of 1054 AD the Roman Catholic Church broke off the original church which is the orthodox church founded in Jerusalem by Christ and later His brother James

They broke off over the bishop of Rome trying to place himself over the church and the orthodox church said it is Christ to be the only head of the Church not man

So it was heretical from the beginning but for your original root, from what I've studied the original church is the Orthodox Church

Papal infallibility was even shown as a new and alien doctrine to Christianity being the old catholics/ ancient Catholics (Eccumentical Catholics) broke off because of this doctrine that came forth from roman Catholicism soon after the great schism

So I ask you if the roman catholic church was the apostolic church I ask you why did it take around 1100 years later (give or take) from Christ crucifixion for this doctrine to be implemented if the Christ ordained the pope to be like God over the church, to be honest this shows the orthodox church being absolutely right on this matter on the Great Schism of 1054 AD

Anonymous said...

And wrong again
During the ecumenical councils, mainly the council of nicea it was bishops from both the EASTERN and western roman roman empires that Constantine I had put together to put together the canon as we know it now.
at this time it was only the church which was orthodox church before the roman Catholics broke off
But it was the apostles and followers of Christ who wrote the cononicle new testament
And the Jews who wrote the old testament/ Tanakh and dueteroconanicle's as well from which the the New Testament relies on
So the Lord inspired the Jewish prophets and the apostles to write the cononicle scripture and so the orthodox church ended up choosing what books go into the bible which they haven't entirely accepted being they use a broader canon in many parts, but the roman Catholics have accepted the shorter accepted canon
and the Protestants shortened it from their thanks to
Martin Luther
So prove me wrong look up what I'm telling you, by the way you can't cause it's history

James Rinkevich said...

Anonymous: the 73 book canon was accepted by the Orthodox Church until after the council of Trent. It was promulgated at Rome in 382 accepted in Africa twice by 430 and at by reference at Nicea II. The Ethipian churches accept an even longer canon and far earlier than the orthodox insisted on theirs.