Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Provocation Of God

Protestantism was created in the 16th century and Martin Luther is credited with igniting it as well as the enlightenment period. While there existed many warring factions of protestants, Martin Luther was definitely its figurehead. What gave him the authority in which to reject doctrines and beliefs set in place 1,500 years before him, and create his own? His own self appointed authority. By placing the scripture as the sole authority the problem arises of who has the authority to interpret the scriptures correctly. This is what lead to many differing opinions and a new forms of protestantism being founded daily, and spreading like wildfire. Many of these denominations, such as the Anabaptists, were extremely radical in their theology, and in a cult like sense very dangerous. Even the founders of the earliest protestant denominations, including Luther, could not answer this question. Five hundred years later and 40,000 denominations later, we still do not have an answer as to who has the authority to interpret scriptures accurately. This results in schism upon schism and in extreme cases, very destructive cults such as The Peoples Temple, The Branch Davidians, The Family Intl. (Children of God), The Unification Church, Heavens Gate, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

Martin Luther created several doctrines, relying on himself and not the church nor the writings of the church fathers. He created sola scriptura, the bible as sole authority, and sola fide, justification by faith alone. Both of these are anti-scriptural but more importantly his teaching of the priesthood of all believers, or that all baptized Christians are the priesthood. (Luther, Martin. Concerning the Ministry (1523), tr. Conrad Bergendoff, in Bergendoff, Conrad (ed.) Luther's Works. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1958, 40:18 ff.) Martin Luther taught that all are priests in the congregation of the Lord and proclaimed this at the Diet of Worms, diets were general assemblies of the Roman Empire, presided over by Emperor Charles V. (Brecht, Martin. (tr. Wolfgang Katenz) "Luther, Martin," in Hillerbrand, Hans J. (ed.) Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, 2:463. and Bratcher, Dennis. "The Diet of Worms (1521)," in The Voice: Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians. Retrieved 13 July 2007.)

This priesthood of all believers is very important in debunking protestantism. Luther believed that all his doctrines were scriptural, when in fact they were scriptural based on his private interpretation of them, which in itself is against 2 Pet. 1:20 "Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." Private meaning personal, a personal interpretation of the scriptures. How do we know that Luther's interpretation is his own and not from God? If we look at the scripture in James 2:20 for instance we read: "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" Also in James 2:14 "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?" Continuing on in verse 17 "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
The reason this is so important to show these verses in only the book of James is because Martin Luther could explain the other verses away using his own interpretation. He could not, however, explain the book of James and therefore removed it from the canon referring to it as "The epistle of straw." Of course later he was forced, due to heavy criticism, to put it back in the bible. This is very key in proving protestantism wrong, Luther had set the bar for other protestants that if all else fails, just take out what doesn't fit with your theology. This destroys justification by faith alone.

For relying on the bible as the sole authority. History paints a different picture than the protestants, who came onto the scene 500 years ago. The bible as we know it was not in existence until the 4th century. Not one person had their own bible. Churches passed the letters of St. Paul amongst one another, some had a Gospel, some had parts of scripture, or even small snippits. Some churches had nothing at all and either relied on oral tradition of Christ's life and teaching, which is scripturally accurate, 2 Thess. 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, wether by word or our epistle." If the bible is needed in order to attain salvation then many Christians in the early church are doomed, and even after the bible was put together. The vast majority of the common people were unable to read and therefore came to church to hear the Gospels being read, but never owned their own personal bible. Christ says an interesting thing in John 5:39 about scripture: "You search the scripture, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they that testify of me." One of the few times Christ mentions scripture and speaks directly OF it, He does not give us the impression that scriptures have the authority that protestants bestow upon it. In fact he clearly states this view is incorrect.

Going all the way back to the old testament. The foundation of the church, before its fulfillment by Christ, is very important to understand. Protestants take the old testament out of context by believing in the complete abolishment of the entire church structure. This belief quite frankly is senseless. What is the point in creating a priesthood, only to abolish it later? What is the sense in creating a form of worship, only to abolish it later? The church then was symbolic. These things had no power in which to save because Christ had not fulfilled these things and gave the church power. The sacrifice offered, a lamb, is now fulfilled by Christ. Instead of an actual slaughtered lamb, we have the perfect lamb, Christ, as our sacrifice in the Holy Communion. Circumcision has been fulfilled by Baptism, and as a child is circumcised as an infant, so too is a child baptized as an infant. This is what protestants cannot understand because their "church" does not in any way resemble the church of God. Their worship does not, in any way, resemble the true worship done in the old testament. Is there any place that we can see that liturgical worship is divine as the Orthodox say? Indeed, in The Apocalypse (Revelation) of St John The Apostle, Chapter 8 verse 3, John shows us "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much insence, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angels hand." An altar, a censer, intercession of the saints, these are all distinctly Orthodox! This altar was before God, and the service is conducted just as an Orthodox worship service is conducted, a Divine Liturgy.

Now comes the provocation of God. Numbers chapter 16 details a rebellion against Moses and Aaron by a man named Korah and his followers. "They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "you take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?" The underlined verse is very similar to what Martin Luther states, the priesthood of the believers. Korah equates the believers with the clergy in the exact same way and rebellious fashion that Korah did. God Himself responded to Korah in verse 31 "Now it came to pass, as he (Moses speaking to the israelites) finished speaking these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods....v.35 And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense."
The Lord responded swifty to Korah and his rebellious ideas. This incident in which Korah rebells is no different than the protestants rebelling against God's church and His authority. 

Obviously God did not destroy the protestants, but He didn't for a specific reason. The israelites, such as Korah, were with Moses, he seen the miracles and had every opportunity to accept the truth, to know the truth of the Lord, but instead chose to go against God in the worst of ways, pride. In the case of protestantism, many if not all are ignorant of the true church. Many, if not all, do not have a clear understanding of scripture. They obviously lack understanding when it comes to the importance of the church and why it was not abolished, Mt. 5:17 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." Their lack of understanding has temporarily spared them from the wrath of God, hopefully their ignorance will not continue and they will come to the truth.
Protestantism is indeed a provocation of God, just as Moses explains "But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then you shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord." Moses is explaining that their actions, rebellion against an established office, in this case the priesthood, have provoked the Lord. By rebelling against, which is a form of protest, the office God established, then you are rebelling against God. This also brings up the question of, why would God be dead serious about the priesthood then, when it had no power, only to abolish it later? 

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