…keeping the outer cup all nice and clean, but inside is filthy. Maybe if They’d Taken Me Under Their Wing…

I was young in the Lord and willing to learn. They didn’t know one thing about me. And didn’t want to know. I was a brand new babe in Christ. Hungry for knowledge and in love with Jesus. But I wore sports clothes, didn’t have the right accent, born on the wrong side of the city, and I went to a “heretical” Charismatic fellowship. All they seemed interested in was my wife who was “one of us”. Very sad. But ultimately I’m glad. That experience as well as others caused me to not humbly submit to any man’s or group’s opinion but to search out matters for myself. Something I’m sure they agreed was a good idea in theory, as long as the person ultimately came to believe what they did!


You’ll be sad to know they split a family up later because of a member’s sin (I won’t get into the details) and just like the woman caught in adultery they blamed the woman. Except in this case she was blameless. Yet in their misogynistic way, that only Fundamentalist religionists can do, they sided with the man and excommunicated her. What’s interesting is that back then I always had my doubts about their salvation and sincerity, and this woman was the only one in the whole church I didn’t doubt. Such a lovely woman. The only one who took me in and treated me like a human being. Her husband was nice enough I suppose, but I always thought there was something not quite right about him. And I felt he was nice to me because she was. It never felt like she was either shunning me or trying to convert me. She was just treating me with equal respect.

Anyway ALL of his kids have run off into the world. Like really worldly. She is not allowed back in the assembly. But that was a really liberating experience for her I believe. She was forced to go to another fellowship where she was exposed to Christians other than herself and suddenly realised women who wore trousers were definitely “saved” and many times more devoted than the women she knew, even herself. It was a good experience. And him? Still faithfully attending his Gospel Hall with all his Brethren… No wife, no kids. but oh, so theologically correct and upstanding before his brethren and his god.



Read history. Christians have been declaring the end of the world since the beginning of the Church. And every generation was sure that their time had all the signs that “this is it!” “Things couldn’t possibly get any worse.” Scholars tell us that the first Christians, even Paul himself, believed they wouldn’t make it out of their century before Christ returned in judgement. The Anabaptists during the time of the Reformation were sure their days were the last, and that infant baptism was the mark of the beast, since the practice was tied up with citizenship. And non-citizens had no rights. They could neither buy nor sell. They were non-entities. If I had lived then I may have been persuaded by such reasoning as it seemed very plausible.


And now all the faithful will throw 2 Peter 3:3-7 at me. The pseudonymous author of 2 Peter (most scholars agree Peter did not write this epistle) wrote this section because people (perhaps both Christian and non-Christian) had already realized that Christianity had claimed a quick return of Christ that never happened. So they needed a reinterpretation. And that has been the sad history of Christianity ever since. One long reinterpretation.

First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water,through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless. (NRSV)

This passage also creates fear in the faithful as the author makes it clear that doubting the literal and bodily Second Coming of Christ makes you a wicked reprobate worthy of fire that is coming to burn the world up!

Going back to the idea of Christianity being one long reinterpretation: Why, even today we have people who claim to have re-discovered a so-called Super Gospel where they smash all existing Gospels together. Doesn’t matter if they are Gnostic or proto-Orthodox. We have others who are now attempting to return to “Pristine Christianity”. A return to the Ante Nicene faith. Others are trying to develop their own form of what they see as “Pure” Christianity by obeying and considering Jesus’ Words Only as Scripture. All of these groups are admittedly small, but it goes to show that the re-imagining of Christianity continues unabated. And at the same time these re-imaginings are imagined to somehow be a return to orthodoxy and all competing forms of the religion are denounced in the strongest terms as hellish counterfeits. But is this not just the same old, same old that has been going on for the last 2000 years?

Here are some links to the movement I mention in the article:

The Super-Gospel: http://scriptural-truth.com/

Ante Nicene Restorationism: www.scrollpublishing.com

The man who is almost single-handedly behind the whole modern movement is David Bercot. He wrote a book in the 1980’s called Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up? Where he make a convincing case that all of modern Christianity has strayed very far from Ante Nicene Christianity. Here’s his personal website: www.davidbercot.com/

The movement I got involved in after reading Bercot’s book seems to have vanished. They had quite an interesting website (EarlyChristianFellowship.org) with articles mainly written by William Leary. The articles covered various topics written from an Ante Nicene point of view, defending or explaining it. I parted with them after I found anomilies with their own reinterpretation of Ante Nicene Ecclesiology. I basically discovered that no church on earth today, including theirs was able to satisfy the requirements for being the true Church. At least not according to the standards of men like Tertulliand and Cyprian (who had different standards by the way… Just to confuse things a little more).

Here’s another seemingly defunct Ante Nicene Fellowship: http://www.ante-nicenechurch.org/

And here’s one that seems to still be going. I may have had interaction with these guys years ago. If I remember they are bit more “Catholic” than the group I was with who had a distinctively Protestant feel about them.

So it seems this “mighty move of God” has died before it has really taken off. A blip in the footnotes of Church history.

Jesus’ Words Only: www.jesuswordsonly.com

Paul fought the Judaizers in his day and they are back. And guess what? The modern Judaizers hate Paul too! This group claims that Paul is false prophet! Intriguing to say the least. If you have an inquisitive mind and don’t mind being influenced by a bit of heresy then this will interest you. The founder is busy building Christian fellowships that only accept Jesus’ words and the OT as inspired and who also believe it is necessary to follow the Law. They seem to be doing better than the Ante Nicene fellowships did…

This is a response to a person who assumed I was a Catholic simply because I defended the position that Church history mostly favours Catholicism (and even then it is more favourable to Eastern Orthodoxy than Catholicism)
“It seems you assume much without knowing my story or the true facts of Church history. Just to make things very clear I am a non-believer. A very honest and emotionally painful journey to find the truth of Christianity eventually led me out of it. I was taught and I believed not to trust in man’s opinions, but only God’s truth. But no matter where I turned all I saw was man’s interpretations. How to determine man’s opinions from God’s truth? I didn’t seem to be able to find an infallible rule for doing this. And the further back I went all I saw were more opinions. But those opinions were very different from the ones today. Until it dawned on me that all of “God’s truth” is simply man’s opinions, set in dogmatic stone. Yet, this unchangeable truth changed! There is no scientific method in theology. Only opinions. That’s why we have 40000 denominations, with more every week and an ever evolving theology going in ever wider variants.
Call Catholicism heretical if you wish, and indeed it does include many modern innovations not found in the first 300 years, but I challenge you to show me any Christian before, say, Tyndale, who didn’t believe in Baptismal Regeneration. When you don’t, ask yourself why no Christian after the death of the last Apostle and for the following 1500 years until around the time of the Reformation (except for Gnostics) taught salvation alone apart from works.
You are left with three possible explanations.
1. The Church failed and disappeared immediately after John died and was only revived after Luther reformed the Church. This is known as Restorationism and forms of it are taught by various Christian groups such as Mormons. The problem with this view is that from a spiritual perspective it would appear to make Satan victorious over Christ as Christ declared that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His Church. Of course that is not the only way to interpret that verse, as gates are not known to be offensive but defensive and so a more logical interpretation is that of an offensive Church breaking down hell’s gates and releasing the captives. Still, if Evangelical doctrine is the pure doctrine and salvation is as they teach then there was no Church to attack hell for 1500.
2. The true Church only survived underground very soon (though not immediately) after the death of the last Apostle. The date typically given is around the time of the Nicean Council, though it is taught that Catholicism was already growing into the monster it would become when Constantine supposedly took the helm of the Church in 325. This view was made popular by authors such as J. M. Carroll’s Trail of Blood and E. H. Broadbent’s The Pilgrim Church. It assumes that Evangelical doctrines were taught by the Apostles but that Satan moved immediately to start corrupting them. Proponents of this view point to the Corinthian and Galatian churches and to Gnosticism as a general movement as very early examples. It is then taught that Roman Catholicism then began to take grip and eventually smothered the true Church. So that it had to go into hiding. Groups such as the Montanists, Novatianists and Donatists are used as early examples of this pure church. Later groups such as the Paulicians and Bogomils are used then as well as the Waldensians, Lollards and Moravians later still.
You even have KJV Onlyists latch onto this view and say that the true Church also kept the true Bible preserved all those years in the Alps. They have gone so far as to say the Waldensians were actually direct descendants of the Apostolic Churches and went into hiding in the Italian mountains for centuries and centuries. Preserving the Latin Vulgate along the way until it could get into the hands of the godly reformers and eventually translated into the infallible KJV! This is how desperate people get when history and facts don’t go their way.
The problem with this view is that all of these groups were widely divergent in their beliefs against one another. The earliest groups were all essentially Catholic in their beliefs, just like the main Church itself. There is no Evangelical church to be found during that time. The problems they had were with orthopraxy. Almost any group today would be far too lax in comparison with the main Church of that day, never mind the strict Novatianists. The Paulicians and Bogomils were Neo-Gnostics. The Waldensians still believed in many central Catholic doctrines when they formed, but did evolve slowly. The Reformation can, in many ways, be seen to start with John Wycliffe, culminating in Luther’s act of revolt on 31st October 1517.
Both of these positions suffer irreparably from what we can actually know about history.”
This is exactly what I believe. Very hard to do. I mourned the loss of my faith like I mourned the loss of my father at 18. I was in a deep depression for one year. And then anger set in. Just like with my father. I was angry at God for allowing Christianity to get so messed up and making it impossible to find out what He actually wanted me to believe about Jesus and the Bible and Salvation etc. I was angry at all the self-assured teachers who proclaimed with absolute confidence that their way was God’s way, yet with only a little bit of study into Church history I could see this was false. I was angry with myself for having wasted so many good years on what seemed to ultimately be such a fruitless task.
It has been a long hard road out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way now. I also see how much fear and paranoia was holding me down. Fear and Paranoia that was a direct result of my faith and belief.
I know it’s not like that for everyone, but I do think in general that believers live in a make-believe world of spooks and demons and evil forces that are constantly trying to get them and their families.
I tried so hard to be theologically sound and morally upright. I tried to share my faith and show the world that I had the joy of the Lord.
And I’ve heard all of the stupid pat answers to my problems in this regard. “It’s not “do”, it’s “done””. Yet it was Fanny Crosby’s hymn that always spoke to me most “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way”.
I’ve seen so many men I looked up to as spiritual giants fall. I’ve tried to be that giant but was too honest with myself to pretend or lie to myself. I have never seen a saint (except perhaps my wife). All I have seen is talk. Theories and dogma. I have witnessed phenomena I cannot easily explain in natural terms, but I know enough about Christianity at this stage to doubt that it offers the true interpretation of these events. And by extension I doubt that any organized religion actually offers the true answers to such things as miracles and answered prayer.
So I keep searching. Infusing new meaning into my life. Looking for better ways to understand things. I have shaken off the dogma that was holding me down. Christianity has failed to provide the answers I seek. That was hard to admit, but honesty and sanity forces me to do it.
A book I read recently that has really helped is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a Jewish Holocaust survivor who developed a treatment called Logotherapy. He basically taught that man lives as long as he can find meaning in his life. Christians find this meaning in their god, but then confuse and attribute this new found meaning and the psychological assurance it brings with the Holy Spirit.
People can say what they will, I gave Christianity 110%. I gave my all. All that I could. And I wept and beat myself because I could not give more. Because so much was held back by “the flesh”. I was hardcore. I was an Evangelical Fundamentalist extraordinaire. Yet my endeavours got me nowhere. I believed in Christianity deep down in the core of my being. I believed it was true on every level. I only needed to find the truth. If I didn’t find it one denomination I’d find it in another. I knew man had made a mess of it, all I had to do was uncover it. I could feel the Holy Spirit working inside me and this was my assurance that in spite of the fact I didn’t have answers now I would have them if I kept searching. Yet, the more I dug the more dirt I found. No treasure. What I did get I could have gotten in any religion: good living. Heck, even “ungodly” philosophy extols the virtues of clean, healthy living, positive mindsets and all that. Yet the truth of Christianity, that thing which separates it from all other truth claims, I could not find. The answers were always elusive yet claimed to be held by everyone I turned to. Even though they all disagreed sharply about precisely just what that was and how to obtain it.
Here I am now after only one year of the same intensity with my business and I am on the cusp of success. Not meaning to boast, it’s just the contrast is striking as far as I am concerned.
The more I gave to my faith the less I got in return. The more I give to my business the more I get in return. In the end my faith was toxic and life destroying. I had to give it up to save my sanity. I understand my business could get in the way of living and I may have to give it up and pull back, but my belief (based firmly on the NT words of Jesus) was that the more I gave the more I would get in return, and that even family must be sacrificed on the alter of service to God. But the only promise of return was in the world to come. The promise while on earth? Suffering. Rejection. Humility. Poverty. Death.
Sure a simplistic Evangelicals faith would have been wonderful and I think if a person remains humble and loving toward all of humanity then there is nothing wrong with holding ideas that are most probably wrong. But when someone grows proud, boastful, dangerous even to the point of blood over beliefs that are inherently unverifiable then this must be stopped.

In the main, Evangelicalism claims to be THE orthodox body of Christian belief on the earth today. Yet, with a little bit of research it can be easily determined that is very far from the case.

Many Evangelicals claim perspicuity of the Bible. Yet, they all get the Trinity wrong according to the understanding of the early Church.

Many claim that the Holy Spirit teaches true Believers the truth, yet He seems to have failed to teach them that.

The only recourse is to claim the early Church got it wrong and modern Evangelicalism got it right. But this presents huge problems for any Evangelical who wants to claim their brand of Christianity is the original Apostolic brand and is therefore superior.

We know that Protestantism got much of its theology via the Roman Catholic Church whom we have to thank for the modern version of the Trinity here in the West. And a lot of that theology comes from the middle ages.

Also if some Evangelicals are willing to go as far as to say that Christianity was corrupted very early and restored only at the Reformation then they are just like the Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists they revile for saying the same thing.

Evangelicalism is just slightly more in line with historic Christianity than these other “Restorationists” and they’re also a much larger movement (being so spread out among all the various denominations). This gives them the false impression that their religion is historic and the genuine thing.

Reading stuff into the Bible is easy, and I am convinced that 90% of theology is just this. Much of what passes for pure Biblical doctrine in the eyes of its adherents is late, very late from a New Testament time frame and would have been thrown out as heretical by the early Church. Calvinism for example comes via Gnosticism and Augustine. Interesting that Augustine was a Manichean before he became Catholic. “Augustine’s position raised objections. Julian, bishop of Eclanum, expressed the view that Augustine was bringing Manichean thoughts into the church.” (Chadwick, Henry (1993). The Early Church. Penguin.) Yes, he was a dyed in the wool Catholic. He is famous for his little phrase “In essentials unity. In non-essentials liberty. In everything love”. Yet can it be doubted that his version of what constituted essentials and non-essentials would have differed very much from what Evangelicals today consider to be such? Augustine believed in Baptismal Regeneration. He believed infants who had not been baptized would go to hell. That sounds like an essential to me. Yet this is anathema to all Evangelical, especially to those Calvinists who hold him up as their patron saint (almost). What is also interesting is that you do not find anything like the determinism taught in Calvinism anywhere in the early Church prior to Augustine. This is why it was never accepted by the Church at the time. It was an innovation. Yet for some reason Augustine was never condemned for it. Maybe because he was held in such high regard. But the Roman Church has surely regretted not doing so, since the child of that theology was born at the Reformation and has grown into a giant today. The only place you find determinism of any description in the early Church prior to Augustine is in Gnosticism.

This post has gone on long enough. Armininians will love reading about Gnostic Calvinism, unfortunately they run into major problems too when examining Christianity from an historic point of view. Some have actually tried returning to “Pure Christianity” including me, but serious problems arise at every turn. My conclusion is that whatever primitive Christianity was, it is lost. Irretrievably lost. Jesus has failed. It would seem to me that the gates of Hades have prevailed.

Below is Tozer giving the standard Evangelical definition of the Trinity. Did you know the early Church did not define the triune nature of the Christian God in this way? The Evangelical version is much more confusing. “He exists in three Persons” Who exists in 3 persons? The Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit? How can one person exist in 3 distinct persons? Tozer is considered one the foremost Evangelical theologians of the 20th century, yet he seems to have gotten the historic Trinity totally wrong.

Historically the Father was indeed seen as the One True God. Christ and the Spirit being sorts of emanations from Him. The Father was the sun and Jesus (and the Spirit) was the beam. Since Jesus was of the same uncreated essence he therefore was God. But He was not the One True God. I could go on, but I won’t bore you. But this version actually makes WAY more sense and would clear up a lot of confusion for folks who seem to think they can get clear knowledge of God from the Bible, yet get basic things like God’s nature all confused. That’s because in spite of their very definite claims to the contrary they actually do get a lot of their information about the Bible second hand from “expert” sources. Tozer did, and he got it wrong.

“God is one—He is one in nature, one in substance, one God in His unitary being, but He exists in three Persons—if I might use the word, all rooted in this one Being; so there are not three Gods, but one God. There are not three substances, but one. Not three divine natures, but one divine nature—only one God.”