I have been seeing articles appear on NewsWithViews like Blind Guides by Daubenmire and State-Owned Churches Are Killing America by Chuck Baldwin or earlier indictments of the Church like Today's 'Chistianty' by Paul Proctor. These articles used words like milquetoast, sissified “yes” men and Feelianity.
Has the church become superfluous and impotent or is the church even the Church at all? We know that the Church was established by Jesus Christ for His purposes. All churches would like to think that they are fulfilling that purpose. But are they?
The Pharisees thought they were fulfilling the purposes of God according to Moses but we know that Jesus complained that Pharisees were actually hypocrites, outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of iniquity, doing bad things and making the word of God to none effect.
In truth they had turned Israel away from God while they still thought they were the children of God. Could we be deceived like the Pharisees were? History does repeat itself and evil is very clever about creeping in with “damnable heresies”. Could we be under a strong delusion that we are following Christ when in fact we are doing contrary to what He taught us to do?
I have been accused of being an iconoclast which I honestly do not mind. And the truth is compared to some of the other people writing for NewsWithViews.com, I am likely to be considered to be the radical. That is okay with me too. Being called an iconoclast or radical might be considered terms of endearment before I am done. The truth is, anyone who actually preaches what John the Baptist and Jesus Christ taught is not going to be very popular with much of modern mainstream Christianity or just about anyone else. That goes with the job description from the beginning.1
I don't need to call anyone names or point the finger at any particular group. Once we put the original scripture into the context of law and history a richer view of the early Church's activities and purpose comes into view. The importance of early Church activities in the survival of millions of “believers” as Roman Civil Law2 faltered should not be underestimated. Fortunately those Christians who actually heard the whole message of Christ knew that the righteousness of God would set men free. They also knew that the ways of Cain3 and the laws of men continually returned mankind to bondage.4
In asking what should the Church be doing today, a question arises. Which of the more than 40,000 modern denominations should we use as a model? And what of the growing number of non-denominational churches? There is clearly an element of discontent in what is representing itself as Christianity and there is some movement to get the Church back on track.
An examination of the causes of the decline in the Roman Empire, the function of their temples,5 and the contrast offered by the early Church should help change our thinking. Understanding the the nature of the “union and discipline” of the the early Christian community may bring many who found the modern Church void and without purpose. It also might enrage if not drive away some of those who think they are following Christ now, but are really the modern hypocrites, who outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within are full of iniquity. 6
When Jesus found the people doing contrary to the ways of God, He called them to repent, which means “change one’s mind”. Change it from what to what? What did it mean to believe in Christ? I have heard the modern catechism version of what that is supposed mean, but what did it mean back then in the first century Church? What did Christians do to sustain themselves, and even prosper, as Rome declined. What were these model citizens doing which got them persecuted?
There was a lot of religious freedom in those days. One element of that world was their temples.7 They were not just places to go if you had a particular theology. They had a function in society. The welfare systems of those days were often managed at or by the personnel of these temples. Some temples provided services such as: investment houses, minting coins, underwriting of commercial ventures, and insurance.
Some temples even stored official documents and contracts including birth certificates. In the Temple of Saturn on the eastern slope of the Capitoline Hill there was a common treasury. It was supported by the general taxes as a special reserve fund. The aerarium sanctum ---originally consisting of the spoils of war--- was maintained chiefly by a 5% tax on slaves who were fired or discharged. It was not to be touched except in cases of extreme necessity.8
Aerarium was the name for the public treasury, and it included the operation of public finances. Elected Quaestors had oversight of these funds. They had no imperium9. In the Republic they were elected by the people, but in the Empire it became an appointed position. The point of this tidbit of history is that these temples, which we often think represented religious institutions, were actually government buildings providing social services and other governmental aid.
Herod in Judea was using the same methods. Some of the people who availed themselves of the services of Herod's Temple believed in a Heaven and Hell, some in reincarnation and some believed when you were dead you were dead. All of them attended the temple and even provided “sacrifice”. When the word sacrifice is mentioned you should not think of the ritual blood-letting sacrifice practiced by the Pharisees. Nor should you imagine that was the only sacrifices they demanded.
Many who took advantage of the benefits and services of the temple did not believe in ritual animal sacrifice. They believed the Pharisees had misinterpreted the ancient text.10 The sacrifice they did participate in was called Corban. Corban had been around from ancient times. The first forms of the word appear in Genesis and meant offer or sacrifice. It had a very practical purpose in the culture of Israel and other nations. Even Rome had Qurban back in the origins of their own society. That original Corban was very much like what we see in the early American Churches in successful colonial communities.
Was the temple a religious building? According to the definition of religion we see in the Bible “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father”11 is the manner in which you care for the widows, orphans and other needy of your society.12 Herod's temple and the Temple of Saturn on Capitol Hill were simply not pure religion.
Jesus had a problem with the Corban of the Pharisees.13 Until Americans and those people who want to follow Christ understand why Jesus said that form of Corban made the word of God to none effect, they will continue to miss a major element of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His doctrines and the purposes of the Church. The will establish a different kind of Church.14
The Corban of early Israel consisted of freewill offerings of the people to their ministers. Those ministers were elected by the free choice of individual congregations who, through a network of charity, supplied financial oversight of the funds which composed their own treasury. They too had no imperium.15
So the original temples in both Rome and Israel were supported by free-will offerings. It was later when the “power of choice” was centralized by the sloth of the people and the rise of civil law,16 kings and Emperors. The people again desired to have one purse17 and coveted the goods of their neighbors. Their temples were no longer institutions of virtue and charity but became tools of the civil law.18 The use of the civil law to force the charity of society robs the individual of his natural virtue.19
The Corban of the Pharisees had become welfare system under civil law.20 Once you understand why Jesus had a problem with that kind of welfare system21 then the question is not what track should the Church be on, but how can the train be turned around? It is time to repent and seek the kingdom of God which is at hand and the righteousness of God.
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Chapter 7. of the book The Covenants of the gods
Republic vs Democracy
Chapter 8. of the book The Covenants of the gods
Democracy vs Demagogue
Doom, Gloom, and Democracy
The real destroyer is our own covetousness
Democracy SS Video Series 5-10 4:12
Republic SS Video Series 6-10 8:01