Sins of our Forefathers, Part 7

The Church Doctors

Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary was one of the first Latin doctrinal writers. He was the bishop of Poitiers. At times he was referred to as the “Hammer of the Arians.” The Arianism teaching said Yeshua was not equal to the Father and that He was created, and so He was not without a beginning like the Father. Augustine of Hippo, which we will soon hear about, called him “the illustrious doctor of the churches”, and his works continued to be highly influential in later centuries. 

Ambrose

Ambrose was the Bishop of Milan. He was a theologian, and one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th Century.  In the late 4th Century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Nicene Church and Arians. Paganism was a lesser concern than heresy for Christians in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, which was the case for Ambrose. The great Christian writers of the Third to Fifth Centuries felt their “business was to discredit traditional religious practices as a route toward propagating their new faith and destroying any loyalty to the old gods and goddesses that still survived in the Roman West. 

Jerome of Stridonium

Jerome was a great Bible scholar. His Latin translation of the Scriptures became the official Bible of the church. It was the Vulgate Bible and he became known as the Father of Biblical Science.  All the writers of the Bible believed in the literal meaning of God’s Word, such as that a Jewish Messiah would establish His kingdom on the earth and that He would rule His kingdom for 1,000 years. The Messiah would restore Israel and be the ruler of all nations including the Gentile believers who would be blessed also in this kingdom. But  literal interpretation of the Scriptures were not compatible with the teachings of replacement of Israel by the church, and with Jerome being a big fan of the allegorical teaching of the Word  the church now became the kingdom of God.  So now after the Council of Nicea this became the foundation to all of their teachings going forward. 

Now it was the spiritualizing of the kingdom, so that they could establish their false doctrine that the church was now the true Israel. Contantine along with the church, in partnership, established the spiritual kingdom of God in the hearts of men throughout the world to this day.

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine was the bishop of Hippo, a philosopher and theologian. He is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Chrisitanity along with John Chrysostom. Augustine was into the works of Plato, like so many others. He framed the concept of original sin and he wrote a book called the “ City of God,” where he spoke  of  the church as the spiritual city of God rather than a physical city. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople closely identified with Augustine on the Trinity. 

Pope Gregory the Great

Pope Gregory the Great was a Doctor of the Church. He was known as Gregorius Dialogus because of the dialogue he wrote. He was the first of the popes from a monastic background and one of the four great latin Fathers of the church. Gregory I had the most influence on the early medieval church.

First Council of Constantinople

All of this brought about the First Council of Constantinople in 381 CE. with the Emperor Theodosius presiding. In this council they still were discussing Arianism and Apollinarism. Apollinarianism was a Fourth-Century Christian heresy that plagued the early church and that denied the full humanity and perfection of Jesus Christ. It is named after Apollinaris the Younger, who was bishop of the Laodicean church and who originated the teaching 361CE  Apollinarianism taught that Jesus’ two natures, human and divine, could not co-exist in the same person. According to Apollinaris, since Jesus was human, He must have sinned, and a sinful nature could not share the same body with the divine nature. To overcome this “problem” in Jesus, the Logos of God came upon Jesus, replacing His human mind or rational nature with God’s and overwhelming the sinfulness inherent in Jesus’ humanity. The Logos thus became the divine nature of Christ, as opposed to the human nature of Jesus. Once again they did not go to the Scriptures for their answers. Philippians 2:5-7 should make it all clear to us. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.” Yeshua was the Logos, the Word of God. He stripped himself of all that was His deity, to become a man. All that Yeshua did, His miracles, and His dying, were all done as a man, a man who abided with God, and God who abided with Him,  John 15:1-11. 

The council also discussed the divinity of the Holy Spirit, which led to the rewording of the Nicean Creed, which was then called the Niceno- Constantinople Creed, which is still recited today.

The Council of Nicea brought about great division. Because Constantine divided the empire into the East and the West, so too, the thought on doctrine divided itself. There was much infighting, and the fact that there were so many different branches of the church, the Greeks, the Asians, the Latins  and some believed in the Council Creed, others did not, many believed in Arian thinking and others did not, and so many different kinds of thinking, all different  and most all,  were plain heresy from these theologians. A call for unity in the church was the topic of the day, but this did not come about because which theory was correct?  Today we see so many churches, with so many beliefs, and it all goes back to the fact that our forefathers left the truths that Yeshua the Messiah gave us,  and the Apostles carried on, and the Apostolic Fathers after them fought so hard to keep. But unfortunately these people were bishops and doctors of the church, and writers who had an impact on so many people of their day, and even to this present day, mislead believers in untruths. But the Fourth Century was not the only time when we see such division, the Fifth Century had trouble of its own.

Council of Ephesus

In 431 another council was called, this time it was held in Ephesus. This time it was to discuss Nestorianism. Nestorianism is the doctrine that there were two separate persons, one human and one divine, in the incarnate Christ. It is named after Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople (428–31), and was maintained by some ancient churches of the Middle East. A small Nestorian Church still exists in Iraq.  The conflict was that it was heretical to call Mary Theotokos (Mother of God), God Bearer, as she gave birth to a man, Jesus, in whom God dwells. The council affirmed the unity of Christ by recognizing that the correct title for Mary was indeed “Theotokos”- Mother of God, and  a definition was agreed upon to present Christ as one person with two natures.  Before the incarnation of the Son, there were two and there was only one nature after His birth.

They also discussed Pelagianism, also called Pelagian heresy, a 5th-Century Christian heresy taught by Pelagius and his followers that stressed the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will.  Celestius, a disciple of Pelagius, denied the church’s doctrine of original sin and the necessity of infant baptism. The council was against this idea.

Well it wasn’t long and the church still could not agree on things so this brought about the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE  presided by Emperor Marcian and was attended by 520 bishops.

Council of Chalcedon

It seems that what they had decided twenty years ago still needed some discussion. The principal purpose of the Council was to reassert the doctrine of the Council of Ephesus against the heresy derivative of Eutyches and Nestorius. Such heresies attempted to dismantle and separate Christ’s divine nature from his humanity (Nestorianism) and further, to limit Christ as solely divine in nature (Monophysitism). This time they came up with the doctrine called “Hypostatic Union.” This was the union of two distinct natures of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ who is true God and true man. They owed their gratitude to the foundation of faith presented by Pope Leo I. But the infighting continued and the divisions only got worse in the Sixth Century. Every question throughout the centuries could have been answered if they would have just read the Scriptures and listened to Yeshua’s own words. “I and the Father are One,” John 10:30.  “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father,”John 14:9. “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made,” John 1: 1-3.  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

Second Council of Nicaea

In the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 CE they restored veneration of icons and condemned iconoclasm which is the destruction of religious and political images and monuments. Again if they had not disregarded the Scriptures they would have known this in Exodus 20:4-6, the second Commandment, You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” But they said their prayer went beyond the icon, but to the person of the icon. Again they were making the Scriptures to say and mean what they wanted them to say and mean. But the Scripture tells us that we are not to pray to anyone except the Father. Mathew 6, the disciples ask Yeshua to teach them how to pray and He said, “This, then, is how you should pray:“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,    on earth as it is in heaven.”

And again,  “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Again in John 16:23, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name.” No where in the Scriptures will it tell you to pray to a saint or a loved one, but only to the Father in Yeshua’s name.

We ask that you will continue on our journey through church history as we continue to see how our forefathers changed Scripture.

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