The Spirit of Antichrist: Polycarp vs. Bishop John Shelby Spong


It has been said that there are no new heresies. In light of that, apologists have a wealth of scholarship to draw upon in the works of the apostolic fathers. One such early leader, Polycarp, died for his faith when he refused to treat the emperor as a god.  It is interesting to note that Christians were called atheists by the Romans because they denied their pantheon of gods. Polycarp was martyred February 22, 156 when he would not renounce Christ. Here is an excerpt from the very oldest of Christian martyrdom accounts, The Martyrdom of Polycarp:

‘Swear by the genius of Caesar; change your mind; say, “Away with the atheists!” ’ Then Polycarp looked with a stern countenance on the multitude of lawless heathen gathered in the stadium, and waved his hands at them, and looked up to heaven with a groan, and said, ‘Away with the atheists.’ The Proconsul continued insisting and saying, ‘Swear, and I release you; curse Christ.’ And Polycarp said, ‘Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’[1]

In my study this week, I was researching the arguments concerning John’s epistles 1, 2, and 3 John. One of the supporting arguments for the Johannine authorship of 1 John is that it was quoted very early in second century by his disciple Polycarp. Polycarp was an inspired apologist who fought vigorously against heretics. He quotes 1 John 4:2-3 in reference to the Antichrist and false teachers. When it came to refuting heresy, neither John nor Polycarp minced words or bothered with pleasantries.

As I read Polycarp, it occurred to me that these words certainly travel across the many years and cultural conditions and can still find application today. I teach a Sunday school class of single adults. A year or so ago a visitor told me that, “Not everyone believes in atonement theology.” I replied with something along the lines of, “I don’t see how anyone can call themselves a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word without believing in the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.” A week or so later I saw him carrying a book by the Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, Jesus For the Non Religious.

It is without a doubt that my visitor’s aberrant “non-atonement theology” was fueled by Spong’s book. Unfortunately, I think Spong convinced him. He no longer attends our church. I believe Spong is a prime example of the sorts of teachers that John was warning the first century church of. Notice the denial of classic Christian doctrines set out in the preface of his book,

The second stream flowing through both my professional life and my writing career was the recognition that the expanding knowledge of my secular world had increasingly rendered the traditional theological formulations expressed in such core Christian doctrines as the incarnation, the atonement and even the trinity inoperative at worst, and incapable of making much sense to the ears of twenty-first-century people at best.[2]

The incarnation, atonement, and trinity are not exactly negotiable doctrines. Under the classical definition, without them, the word “Christian” is unintelligible.  But he errs in that this skepticism is not a product of the twenty-first century. It’s nothing new; I think Paul addressed it especially well in 1 Corinthians 1:20-25. While there are many sound refutations of Spong’s work available online, I thought I would put Spong up against Polycarp, who warned the church in Philippi concerning the spirit of antichrist and false teachers.

The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians

7. For everyone “who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is antichrist”; and whoever does not acknowledge the testimony of the cross “is of the devil”; and whoever twists the sayings of the Lord to suit his own sinful desires and claims that there is neither resurrection nor judgment—well, that person is the first-born of Satan. Therefore let us leave behind the worthless speculation of the crowd and their false teachings, and let us return to the word delivered to us from the beginning; let us be self-controlled with respect to prayer and persevere in fasting, earnestly asking the all-seeing God “to lead us not into temptation,” because, as the Lord said, “the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Polycarp, Phil. 7) [3]

Polycarp presented three criteria based on three essential Christian doctrines: 1) The Incarnation 2) The Cross 3) The Resurrection. He first quotes 1 John “For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist” (1 John 4:2–3). This refers to the incarnation, the doctrine that God incarnated into human flesh, Jesus Christ (Phil 2:6-8). While Spong previously expressed his incredulity in the preface, he makes his position on this doctrine crystal clear later in the book:

Therefore, when I say that God was in Christ or when I assert that I meet God in the person of Jesus, I mean something quite different from the theological definitions of the past that forged doctrines like the incarnation and the trinity, both of which depend on a theistic definition of God. So in order to get to the essence of who Jesus was and even who Jesus is, I must get beyond the traditional theistic definition of God that I now regard as both simplistic and naïve, to say nothing of being wrong.[4]

Thus, he has qualified himself by Polycarp’s first criterion.  Polycarp’s second qualification is, “Whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil;” Spong writes:

This means that anyone seeking to discover the meaning of Jesus today must be prepared to acknowledge that this story of the crucifixion is not history. While Jesus was undoubtedly crucified by the Romans, the familiar details that accompany the story of the cross are not literally true and did not actually happen. [5]

Thus, he denies the testimony of the cross meeting criterion two. Polycarp’s third warning was, “and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the first-born of Satan.” According to Spong,

The resurrection language of the gospels is literal nonsense. Earthquakes do not announce earthly vents. Angels do not invade time, space and history to roll back a stone, to make a historic resurrection announcement. A resuscitated Jesus does not walk out of his tomb in some physical form that can eat, drink, walk, talk, teach and expound on scriptures. [6]

Thus, we see Bishop Spong abundantly meeting all three of Polycarp’s criteria. Making Spong, in Polycarp’s words, the antichirst, of the devil, and first born of Satan. I suppose Spong can be grateful that modern apologists are not usually so blunt… ;) In closing, I will defer to Jude: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ” (Jud 3–4)

 


[1]James Stevenson, A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337 (London: SPCK, 1987), 25.

[2] John Shelby Spong, Jesus For the Non Religious,(New York: Harper Collins, 2007),  ix.

[3]Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers : Greek Texts and English Translations, Updated ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 213.

[4] Spong, Jesus, 214.

[5] Spong, Jesus, 112.

[6] Spong, Jesus, 122.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. Jeff Miller says:

    Good article. Paul bewailed in the book of Acts how he knew when he left that “ravenous wolves” would enter the flock of God & do much harm. It’s interesting to note that Spong denies the incarnation… and as you said, there’s nothing new under the sun. This same “spirit ” can be found in Daniel chapter 2 where the king’s astrologers state that the gods do not dwell in flesh-
    “And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. ” (Daniel 2:11, AV)
    Notice the phrase “whose dwellings are not with flesh.” The same spirit exists today proclaiming God did not become a man in flesh and dwelt among us, yet John said HE did in the very first chapter of the book of John.
    As you said…this “spirit” is not new. Thanks for the article.

  2. Mark says:

    Gather the firewood and torches. I guess I’m a “heretic”.
    I have some serious questions concerning the dogma of catholics.

    Has anyone EVER seen god?
    Has anyone gone to heaven without “knowing” Jesus?
    Do you really believe a preist turns water into wine and bread into human flesh?
    Are all babies that were born and died without “baptism” in hell or purgatory?
    Can you buy your way into heaven?
    Are the pointy hats worn from the ancient costume of Nimrod?
    Are the skullcaps that are worn the same as the jew?
    What makes catholic dogma different from it’s jew ancestors?
    Did Thomas Aquinus fly around the santuary of Notre Dame?
    Am I damned to hell for NOT being a catholic?
    I expect honest and direct answers. If possible.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Mark, I’m not a catholic and nothing in the essay above is either. I share your skepticism of Catholic doctrines. However, the issues in question with Spong are fundamental biblical truths.

  3. Interesting article, but none of this is surprising in any way shape or form. I feel sorry for the guy who bought into this ‘Spong’ guys nonesense, but to have another one ‘leave the religious church’, is actually a good thing. The title of Spongs book speaks a lot of truth, it’s the insides that are so horrible however.
    I AM a NON-CHRISTIAN, non-religious Spirit filled new creation in the Lord; which it seems to many, some kind of aborration of christian understanding; which in fact it is. But there are many like us out there; true followers and believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have nothing to do with the man made theories, theoligies and temple building structures of the apostate christian church.
    Which ‘Christian’ is right? Afterall, there are over 32,000 different denominations that all claim the title, but which is correct? Hmmmm. :)
    The Apostolic Church, where all were one in Him, is being revived as we speak for the end of days which are soon to be upon us. These are voices calling out from the wilderness as John the Baptist, making straight the way for the coming of the Lord, and these voices will only witness to His truth and never to a church who thinks she is a Bride but is not, call ‘christian’.
    I pray you all seek Him while He is still to be found; for our time is coming to a close. Choose which side you are on and listen to His leading. Obey His plea…”Come out of her my children, lest you share in her sins and partake of her plagues” Rev 18:4

    • Cris Putnam says:

      “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(Jn 13:35)

      Stephen, I share your frustration with religiosity and apostate doctrines. However, I see the church as the entire body of true believers, some are more orthodox than others yet I am commanded to love them all. It’s not an option but a command, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”(Jn 13:34) There are certainly sound churches everywhere and I do not think it is advisable to go maverick rather work to speak the truth in love, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”(Heb 10:25)

  4. william says:

    A very poignant article for today’s lost and dying world.

  5. Rick says:

    I liked your article until I read about the trinity being an udisputable doctrine.Search the orgins of this doctrine and it will bring you to The council of Nicea. Its when the Roman empire couldn’t defeat the Church so they compromised with it. This is also when the mode of baptizm was changed from Jesus name ( acts 2:38) to the titles. Math.28:19 says name singular of the father son and holy spirit (Isaiah 9:6).The apostle John would not have made this compromise.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Nonsense, there was nothing conspiratorial about it. The council of Nicea of AD 325 (and I assume you mean the first one), dealt with the heresy of Arianism. Which is a view of the person of Christ as a created being and is thus appropriately referred to as “a god”, but not the God. Of course this is heretical because Jesus said clearly, “I and the Father are one.”(Jn 10:30) and scripture is clear the Jesus is the eternal logos (Jn 1:1) who created all things, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”(Col 1:16) The Nicean Creed is a statement of beliefs issued by the Council of Nicea that insisted that the Son is of one substance with the Father. This was a clear rejection of Arianism. Of course this heresy continues on in cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Adventists. See this

  6. Rick says:

    The doctrine of the trinity does not line up with scripture. We dont know evrything about God but one thing we do know is “Hear O Israel The Lord Our God Is One Lord” (Mark 12:29). The question is Jesus in the Godhead or is the Godhead in Jesus (Colossians 2:8-10). I know most trinitrians believe Jesus is God. Where we part company is the mode of baptizm. In the Book of Acts that is the only way the Apostles baptized was In Jesus Name (Acts 4:12) and (Acts 19:3-5).In the Book of Acts the thing they were persecuted for was the name. This is somthing we should stand firm on since it has to do with salvation (1 Peter 3:21).

  7. Jeff Miller says:

    @Rick.
    I respectfully disagree with you concerning your statement “The doctrine of the trinity does not line up with scripture.” The very first statement (Gen 1:1) addresses this topic by using the word “Elohim”. Moreover, all 3 were involved in creation. Father: Psalm 102:25, Son: Colossians 1:12-16; John 1:1-2, Spirit: Gen 1:2; Job 26:13. All 3 were involved in the creation of Man- Father: Gen 2:7, Son Col 1:16, Spirit: Job 33:4. Again, Gen 1:26 states “Let us make man…” The “let us make” is a Qal verb that is plurual. All 3 were involved in the resurrection- Father: Acts 2:24; Romans 6:4, Son: John 10:17, 18; John 2:19, Spirit: 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:11…and the list goes on. If God is not 3 separate beings with their own will, He went through alot of trouble to prescribe Himself as being so. Even the believer’s safe-keeping is attributed to the Father: John 10:29, Son: John 10:28; Romans 8:34, Spirit: Ephesians 4:30. In Hebrew, there are 2 words used for the word “one”. “yahidh = “unique” & ‘ehadh = does not preclude distinguishable entities (i.e., Gen 2:24 where Adam & Eve are said to be 1 flesh) In the Sh’Ma (Deut. 6:45), the word used is ‘edadh. Within the linguistic structure, the fact that unity, or “oneness” is expressed as ‘ehadh does not exclude having plurality within it. But don’t believe me, research it yourself. I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      @Rick – I suppose you dropped the Council of Nicea bit? (btw Dan Brown writes fiction) but on the trinity you are demonstrably wrong, see Jeff’s post and mine below.
      @Jeff – excellent, a very competent defense!

      The trinity is seen all through the New Testament. At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he tells the disciples that they should go “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19)

      There’s another trinitarian expression in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.”

      Similarly, the last verse of 2 Corinthians is trinitarian in its expression: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).

      We see the three persons mentioned separately in Ephesians 4:4–6 as well: “There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

      All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned together in the opening sentence of 1 Peter: “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2 NASB).

      And in Jude 20–21, we read: “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

      Clearly it is the non- trinitarian view which does not line up with scripture.

  8. @Cris Putnam,

    Thanks for you reply. I’ve heard all the usual christian responses quoting verses to illustrate the point that the ‘church’ is one thing or another. The church is a special thing and is a body of believers, but we also have to ask ourselves which church is right among the 32,000? They can’t all be the church, many are apostate and I’m sure you wouldn’t call them the church would you?
    I do fellowship with other believers…but never in a christian church, but I agree, fellowship is important to witness to one another, to share with one another our walks with the Lord, but it should not be done in an ‘organized’ setting where the Spirit of God is stiffled by the control of men over services.
    Using prophecy as an example, we also know that the vast majority of the christian church will go ‘rogue’ as we see today, and will reject truth. We see that happening daily. What about those loons who call themselves ‘evangelicals’ who believe tomorrow is the end. I mean how stupid does one have to be to even buy into that crap withou opening up His word and asking Him to give us understanding. “In all your getting, get understanding” Prov. 4.

    I do agree with you that we should ‘love one another’, so what better way to show the true love of our Lord to those who are still in the prison houses, than by telling them the truth of the apostasy and encouring them to get out. We are to love them, but we certainly don’t have to like em. :) I would rather see a true Apostolic form of church as I participate in (among many others) that are aware of the Lord and what He is doing right now…calling out to those with ears to hear..to separate from religion and become clean.

    Would you agree Cris that religion (of which christianity is one) is not of our Lord?

    God Bless and thanks for the reply. Interesting discussion indeed.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      @Stephen I believe that religiosity is certainly a problem… of course many denominations are apostate, I write about that often here. Still yet there are lots of solid evangelical churches and you should definitely be plugged into a body of believers. I see that you are an I am glad for you. Your earlier response seemed as if you were advocating isolation. The true church is the entire body of believers, some more orthodox than others in various states of sanctification regardless of all man made systems… there is a core set of beliefs “mere Christianity” if you will that unite the church. We should work within the body to refute error and promote love and unity as best we can. The church is the bride of Christ, if you love the groom, you will also honor his wife.

  9. Rick says:

    I do not see the word trinity in the Bible or 3 persons when refering to the Godhead. What I do see is different manifistations of God. When He spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said,Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. That same I AM is Jesus in the New Testament (John 8:58). Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Jesus is the main focul point of the Bible so it is important to know who he is (John 14:8-9 ” Philip saith unto him, Lord shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus said unto him, Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father: how sayest thou then, show us the Father?” In the book of Acts where the church started they didnt baptize in any other way, but in Jesus name, for example: (Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in there heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? [38]Then Peter said unto them Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost.”) Also in Acts 19 when Paul ran across some diciples of John the Baptised, (Acts 19:3-6 “And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said Unto John’s baptizism.[4] Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptizism of repentence, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. [5] When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [6] And when Paul had laid his hands on them the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied.” The power and authority is in the Name of Jesus. The apostles prayed in Jesus name, they cast out devils in Jesus name, and they only baptized in Jesus name according to the scriptures in Acts. The church is the bride of Christ, and the bride should take on the name of the bridegroom.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      @Rick What you are advocating is a view called modalism, that God manifests in 3 different modes rather than distinct persons. It is not coherent with scripture. It’s appropriate that you mention Baptism because at Jesus baptism we see all 3 Father, Son, and Spirit acting at the same time which logically eliminates the idea of 1 person acting in 3 modes. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”(Mk 1:10-11) Jesus is coming out of the water, Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit descends, he is God, The father speaks from heaven and he is God. Three independent actions, yet all are God. One God in 3 persons, blessed trinity.

  10. Rick says:

    @ Cris what I am advocating is oneness doctrine. (1 Tim.3:16) And without controversy Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 3 persons would mean 3 personalities. I am a father I am a son but that’s not my name, if I sign anything legally binding I sign my name that’s where the authority is (Galatians 3:27 “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”) Ephesians 4:5 -6 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,[6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”) (Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given: and the government show be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the might God, the EVERLASTING FATHER, the Prince of Peace.”)

    • Cris Putnam says:

      There is a non heretical oneness doctrine in that God, although three persons, is yet one in essence. Yet it sounds like you are a oneness pentecostal? So I am wondering based on your oneness doctrine, when the Father said “this is my son in whom I am well pleased” at Jesus baptism do you think Jesus was talking to himself, putting on a show for John the Baptist and everyone else?

  11. @cris- Thanks again for your reply; I do appreciate your reponses. On a side note, I also believe our Lord is Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus Himself says that His Father is Spirit and we should worship Him as such. No discrepency on that here. :)

    Yes, I’m plugged in…but I must re-iterate, we’re not christians nor do we have anything really in common with christianity, other than we ‘used’ to be members of the christian religion.
    Yes, there may be a few…and I mean a ‘few’ good ‘christian churches’ that have not gone off the deepend, but the role of the Bride is not to compromise with anything, especially sin, because the Bridegroom didn’t compromise in anything He did either. The Bride, must be spiritually pure, spotless and w/o blemish, but she can’t say that if she is still within the bondage of religion, which is a construct of deception created by Satan himself.
    That’s not to say that religion ie: christianity didn’t have a role to play. It certainly did have a role to play…the Lord always uses evil for good to glorify His name as he allowed the Hebrew people to go into captivity in Egypt, which today, still hold incredible prophetic power to what we’re all about to go through in the very near future.

    For me personally, the Lord has been teaching me for 8 yrs things I would have never even known about in the christian church; but where it is applied to it’s greatest effect, is that it alone, is a ‘witness to His truth’ and it is powerful in those who ‘go to church’ but don’t have a clue about what is being said. I find that it is much easier to witness His truth to the ‘unchurched’ or the ones that haven’t been too tainted by the christian church.
    I’m sure you probably agree, there is a real hunger out there for the truth, but they’re not getting it in christianity and those that do want to know more about our Lord, certainly don’t want to submit themselves to mans rules and regulations in a ‘church setting’ that is chalk full of ……well, crap. Sorry to be so blunt.
    Many of the unchurch hate the entire concept of ‘church’ in it’s western traditions; but His truth in the Bible, do not place this burden upon them and they actually find themselves becoming completely free in Liberty, just as He said it would. My own son for example, never been churched in his life, came to the Lord in a big way about 2 months ago and is absolutely on fire and zealous for His truth. Had he been in a ‘church’ setting, he’d be suffocated and burdened with the individuals denominational beliefs, theologies and rules which turn more people off than the truth itself. :) Those he witnesses to, are also finding this freedom.

    THe Lord is working very hard and very quickly…..there is a Revival going on right now; but it isn’t happening in Christianity. The Church of Sardis in Revelation speaks to this resulting in the next 2 churches. Philadelphia (the Bride) and Laodicea (compromise with sin/religion)

    God Bless Cris and again, thank you for responding. :) I pray you too see where He’s leading.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      @ Stephen I’m not sure what you mean by quibbling over semantics. It seems to me that if you follow Jesus you are a Christian (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet 4:16). That is what the word means.

  12. Rick says:

    @ Cris When you refer to the Son of God you are refering to Jesus’s earthly ministry. No where does the scripture refer to an eternal son or etrnal sonship.When Jesus was here in the flesh he was subjected to the same weaknesses and temptations as we are Cris. When he was baptized by John in the Jordan even John was hesitant to baptize him,but Jesus said it is proper for us to do it to fullfill all rightousness(Math.3:15). I don’t think they where doing it for show,Jesus was our example. I believe the voice from heaven and the dove was for the benefit of those who witnessed it. Johns baptizm was of repentence (Acts 19:4). When Paul found Johns diciples in Ephesus he exorted them to go further asked them if they had recieved the Holy Ghost and let them know that Johns baptizm was only a start and Jesus Name baptizm was the next step. Nice chatting with you Cris.
    God Bless

  13. @Cris,

    The term ‘christian’ was only used 3 times in the original texts but over time, has replaced the term ‘believer’ in most of the newer editions of the bible. I use a NKJV and can find the changes in them, as well as some other changes which can screw up prophecy in the process, but I understand your comments using the 2 verses you provided.
    The first passage in Acts demonstrates those who did not know the Lord using a derrogatory term used for those that not only ‘followed’ our Lord, but served Him too. :) The 1 Peter passage may substantiate the christian claim to the name, but truthfully, it tells us that if one is to be persecuted as a believer in the Lord and the world wants to call us ‘christians’, then so be it. (paraphrased of course.)
    Do you believe that the Lord would allow His Church to be called or named by the world, especially if if used in a derrogatory manner? The word also shows us in many occassions in both the Old and New Testaments, that the original Aspostolic Church was known as ‘The Way’ and not ‘christian’.
    You’re right though, it probably boils down to semantics in many ways, but I utilize the prophecy and patterns set forth in His word to better identify myself and who I am in Him. I would even say that I am more like a ‘true Jew’ as Paul describes in Romans…one being spiritually circumcized from the world inwardly and not outwardly, but that truely only confuses people more.
    I’m sure you’d agree Cris that everyone can call themselves a ‘christian’, heck….even NObama calls himself a christian; I’m sure satan does too when it suits his purposes, but we are known by our fruit and He searches our hearts daily, which is of more importance than a term.

    God Bless

    • Cris Putnam says:

      @Stephen it really gets kind of silly arguing labels because unless you speak Aramaic and Koine Greek you aren’t using the terms that any New Testament Christian believer used. I think it is a mistake to separate yourself from the body of Christ at large. It’s like telling me you want to be my friend but hate my wife. The church is Jesus’ wife.

  14. Rick says:

    @Chris God did this fo fulfill scripture [ MATT. 12: 15-18 "But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known: THAT IT MIGHT BE FULFILLED WHICH WAS SPOKEN OF ESAIAS THE PROPHET, SAYING, BEHOLD MY SERVANT, WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED, IN WHOM MY SOUL IS WELL PLEASED: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles." ]

    This prophecy was done by the prophet Isaiah in Isa. 42:1. which brings another point: in verse 8 of Isa. 42 it says: ” I am the LORD: that is my name: AND MY GLORY WILL I NOT GIVE TO ANOTHER, neither my praise to graven images.”
    If God will not share his glory with another, then why does Matthew 16:27 say: “FOR THE SON OF MAN SHALL COME IN THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” The answer: God can not share his glory with another but with himself. which brings me to my final point: When Peter James and John went up to the mountain with Jesus and heard A voice from heaven say the same thing during his baptisim. in Matt. 17:1-8 what happened to Jesus? it says in verse 2: “And was transfigured before them: and HIS FACE DID SHINE AS THE SUN, AND HIS RAIMENT WAS WHIE AS THE LIGHT.” This is the same thing that John saw on the isle of Patmos in Rev. 1:11-15 ” SAYING,, I AM ALPHA AND OMEGA, THE FIRST AND THE LAST…{12} and I turned to see the VOICE THAT SPAKE with me. and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesicks; [13] and in the midst of the seven candlesticks ONE LIKE UNTO THE SON OF MAN, CLOTHEDWITH GARMENT ADOWN TO THE FOOT, AND GIRT ABOUT PAPS WITH A GOLDEN GIRDLE. {14} HIS HEAD AND HIS HAIRS WERE WHITE LKE WOOL, AS WHITE AS SNOW: AND HIS EYES WEREAS FLAME OF FIRE,[15] AND HIS FEET LIKE UNTO FINE BRASS, AS IF THEY BURNED IN A FURNACE; AND HIS VOICE AS THE SOUND OF MANY WATERS.” {16}…AND HIS COUNTENANCE WAS AS THE SUN SHINETH IN HIS STRENGTH.” whose voice did John hear? the Son of Man’s voice. in verse 8 of this same chapeter it says Rev. 1:8 ” I AM ALPHA AND OMEGA, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, THE ALMIGHTY.” So the son of Man mentioned in Revelation that he is THE ALMIGHTY, because he also called himself the ALPHA AND OMEGA in verse 11. The book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ Rev. 1:1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…”
    I needed to put caps on the parts of scripture that I would lke you to take notice of Chris, I wasnt able to put them in Bold. If this isnt driving it home brother, I dont know what is ;)

    • Cris Putnam says:

      @Rick the problem is you are not answering my question but conspicuously avoiding it. You have Jesus in the water and you have God the Father in heaven speaking with a different voice, “This is my son…” Yet according to your theology they are the same person. So I ask you again was Jesus just talking to himself to fool the witnesses?

  15. @Cris,
    I think you hit the nail on the head without realizing it my friend. The Gates of Hades will not prevail against My Church our Lord tells us, but it has indeed prevailed against the Christian church. I think you will find that the Christian Church will find itself out to be a virgin without oil in her lamp; while the Bride, who is w/o spot, blemish or wrinkle (Can’t say that about christianity), is indeed the Bride.
    Did you notice how the Disciples had to ‘come out of their religion’ and into ‘only’ the truth in order to be truely set free? It took a while for Peter and the boyz to get over their ‘jewishness’ before they were effective in witnessing the truth of His word; and Paul, who took the name Paul to replace his name Saul, for which he was known among his fellow religionists; never again practised judaism upon his conversion to the truth; he only witnessed to the truth.
    Do you not think the Lord or even His chosen disciples would have told us His church was to be called ‘christian’?
    I understand much of the limited understanding christians have pertaining to these kinds of matters, as I’ve said, I used to be one too and saw how limited the understanding christianity provides, but lets use as one final example the choice of Mathias as the 12th disciple to replace Judas. It was Peter and the other 11, still stuck in their religiosity and immobile in Jerusalem, who drew ‘lots’ to make the choice. To paraphrase, it was kind of like, “Okay Lord…we’ve got 2 choices here for YOU to make to replace Judas. Tell us out of the 2 choice we gave you, which one would replace Judas.” The lot fell to Mathias, but the Lord had someone completely different in mind didn’t He? He had Paul as the replacement for Judas, but because the 11 were still trying to recover from the death/resurrection of our Lord and still tied to their religion even though they now knew the truth, they limited the Lords choices in their own minds but never accounted for the fact our Lord is Sovereign and will make choices for Himself which most times than naught, are different than mans choices and certainly greater than man’s understanding.
    I left you with the parallel & pattern of the hebrew people being allowed to become captive in Egypt for His purposes, I would hope you would have seen that same parallel/pattern in regards to the Apostolic church becoming captive too.

    On a completely different note Cris….as a ‘christian’, do you believe in a pre-trib rapture? I ask you this because my mother in law has been dabbling with the ‘messy jews’ (Messianic Jews) and is adament there is a pre-trib rapture, but is also becoming full of relgion and is now rejecting the truth in His word. Scary stuff religion is.

    Trust me my friend about my rejection of the term ‘christian’ and anything related to it. I went to the Lord about this as I was very concerned, but He opened up His word in understanding so greatly that I now ‘get it’ when it comes to this question. I hpe you’re not offended by my rejection of the term and the religion as a whole, but instead, find joy in the witness to His truth I and so many non-christian believers are now undertaking. :)

    In His Serivce,

    Stephen

    • Cris Putnam says:

      “The Gates of Hades will not prevail against My Church our Lord tells us, but it has indeed prevailed against the Christian church.”

      It sounds like you believe Jesus was mistaken but the existence of counterfeit does not prove that the genuine article does not exist. You are straining out gnats and swallowing camels with the semantics. It’s silly… Christian is properly defined as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ ” The Christian church is His Church.

      So what is your number one complaint (You say “religion” but what do you mean by that) against Christians?

      just one please be brief and specific.

  16. No straining of gnats here. The Christian religion is just that…a religion. Jesus Himself CAME AGAINST religion which christianity is; but like I said, it had a role to play. You’d have to understand the 70 weeks of Daniels prophecy to see this. Even some of the parables and stories related in the new testament by Jesus, based on prophecy, based on parallels and patterns throughout His word, bear this out to be true.
    His Church would not be in disarray and going so apostate as the religion of Christianity is today. I think you’ll find that Jesus’ words themselves were/are prophetic, as it the entire word of God.
    Take a look at the ‘christian pastor’ in California who predicted the ‘rapture’. Firstly, I don’t think anyone on this particular thread would think the guy was correct by any stretch of the imagination, but Cris…HE IS A CHRISTIAN and there’s o denying that. He has thousand of ‘christian’ followers, a fact again, that cannot be denied.
    So who’s right? The Baptists, the Presbyterians who accept all manner of evil as good now, the Anglicans/Episcipals who also reject the word of God and instead adhere to strange doctrines, the Catholics who worship idols and are by no spiritual means anywhere near the truth, the methodists who are now coming against the natoin Israel and are pro-palestinian and on & on & on. Which one is correct Cris?
    The last 3 churches of Rev 3 speaks prophetic volumes as to who these churches are. Sardis means to ‘remove’ or to ‘renovate’. Those who renovate become Laodecia, the modern christian church today, the ones that ‘remove’ themselves, are Philadelphia, the Church of the Bride and she is not called christian, but simply, ‘spirit filled new creations in the Lord’. Bearing the same name as an apostate church only allows the Bride to be included with that group of people which she is not.
    You don’t have to take my word for it, and please, understand prophecy is the most important portion of the word of God because it provides the basis of truth. The ‘Testimony of Jesus IS the Spirit of prophecy’, and our Lord spoke parables that are also prophetic and demonstrate the time of the christian church and the separation of His true children (true jews) from religion. Judas couldn’t separate himself from religion….you can’t have one foot in religion and the other in truth. You know the saying,..’you can’t serve 2 masters’. :)

    In His Service,
    The non-christian Believer. :)

    • Cris Putnam says:

      So you have the truth and everyone else is wrong? That sounds a little cultish to me. It seems your problem is the fact that there are diverse interpretations? I don’t like it either but there is still a core of basic doctrine that most denominations accept, basically the tenets of the classic creeds like the Apostles’ creed. I think there is core Christianity that is sound and is growing. There are 30,000 new converts per day right now in Communist China and that is being accomplished through God’s hand in the mission boards of evangelical denominations. There is much accomplished that you seem to ignore. I have studied prophecy extensively and I assure you there are many takes on Daniel’s 70 weeks – I wonder how hard you have looked at alternate views than your own? You have yet to answer my question, when you complain against religion what do you mean by that?

      I argue that Christianity is NOT a religion – I made this video:

  17. Cultish? ROFL….Cris…when you say that, you no longer have any valid arguement in your defense of christianity as being a religion. You end up pointing to a ‘handful’ of evangelliyfish churches (501 C of course….dollars for silence) doing mission work in China as your example. The Lord will use for His purpose anything that will get His message across for His purposes, but I can tell you the chinese believers are more spiritually pure than any North American ‘christian church’.
    You see, when you start off in compromise as with the 501 C charitable tax status as I’ve pointed out, you’re on shifting sand and not on solid rock. Did our Lord not say to ‘render unto Caesar unto Caesar and give unto the Lord what is the Lords’? The christian church is not only ripping off Caesar, but they’re ripping off the Lord too. Look at the Church of Laodecia..the Lord Himself calls it what it is, and He specifically points to the ‘wealth’ many of these ‘churches’ have, but it comes at a price. If the Gov’t hears you step out of line and begin speaking publicly about politically incorrect subjects, they are threatened with the removal of their precious 501 C status.
    I’ve already told you Cris that religion was founded in the garden and is a contruct of satan, so by saying you have studied prophecy, I remain a little doubtful of your ‘understanding’ of prophecy and how it works. I know all about the many doctrinal beliefs of christianity, I WAS a christian and saw the confusion. No wonder christianity is moot and no longer a force to be reckoned with, there is no unity anymore because as prophesied in Rev 2 & 3, the progression of the 7 churches thru the Church Age is very clear.
    What is GOOD about religion? Where did the Lord ever endorse ‘religion’, and don’t give me the James 5 quote, because if you can show me a pure and undefiled ‘religion’, I’ll show you a purple monkey. It just doesn’t exist.
    If you understand prophecy, can you tell me what the understanding of Daniel 12 is in relation to the scrolls being sealed and then in Revelation where John the Revelator sees them being opened. What is in those scrolls? How would you or anyone else know what is in them and whether they are the truth or not? Who is going to witness to the truth in the first half of the Trib and how do they get that understanding to witness to the truth?
    Did the Pharisees of Jesus day (the religious jews) not say the same thing to Him “So you have the truth and everyone else is wrong?” as you just asked of me? Would not the religious of today (religious christianity) ask the same thing of the Bride? HOw can one be in religion and still be pure, spotless and unblemished when the whole concept of religion itself is the exact opposite, a construct of man engineered by satan, run by man, placing man over man with understanding coming from man.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Yes you sound very cultish – you keep ranting about religion but I have asked you to define it 3 times now with no response. You are misrepresenting my position, I said Christianity is not really a religion… Christian means one who follows Christ. The Chinese chruch and the American church and the African church are all part of the Christian church.

  18. And you’ve avoided all my questions too Cris. Cultish? You’re sounding more foolish all the time…you have yet to provide a single defense except the weak arguement that ‘christian’ means to follow Christ yet ignore the fact your religion is faltering, failing and is just as phariscial as was/is judaism is today, which our Lord rejected.
    Understand prophecy Cris; but please, go to Him about it, ask Him to open it up to you.
    http://www.voiceofthekingfisher.ca

    It is true ya know, the unchurched are the ones the Lord is going to seek for HIs kingdom. They are like lambs who need a shepherd who will provide truth and not religion. Christianity will just burden them.

    We’ll see what happens won’t we? Time will tell, but when you see the 7 yr peace treaty signed with Israel, talk to me then okay.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Paul taught about how one should handle overly religious people:

      Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.(Ro 14:13-19)

      Are you pursuing peace and mutual upbuilding?

      This verse is directed to the weaker religious people who want to pass judgment. It is not their place as fellow servants to pass judgment on the strong. The strong stand or fall before God, and they will stand righteous before God on the last day because God will give them grace to keep them from falling away. Have you ever noticed on those wildlife shows that the lions always attack the weaker animals that are not in herd but off alone falling behind… Stephen when you leave the herd, the lions will start devouring you. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”(1 Pe 5:8)

      Stephen it seems to me that you are the most religious person I have encountered here. You claim that you alone have the true way and that millions of devoted Bible believers are wrong because they disagree with you. That’s dogmatic religion. In fact, you are so dogmatic that you do not identify with Christ, but set your self aside as one who has a special knowledge. That’s gnosticism. Stephen there has always been diversity of belief, since the very beginning. The church fathers were fighting heretics from the first century on. That is why the church father Irenaeus coined the term “orthodox” which means “straight or correct belief.” That is why I am in seminary studying to be an apologist, to defend the orthodox true faith based on scripture. Stephen you seem like a bitter and angry person, I am sorry if you have been hurt by religious people but Christians are sinners in various states of sanctification. You need to forgive. If you follow Christ then you love Christians and you defend and care for the church, if you don’t then you are probably lost. I encourage you to return to Christ and to pursue peace and harmony with the body of Christ, the Christian church.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      The church of Jesus Christ is the most important institution in the world. The assembly of the redeemed, the company of the saints, the children of God are more significant in world history than any other group, organization, or nation. The United States of America compares to the church of Jesus Christ like a speck of dust compares to the sun. ~ John Piper

      http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-cosmic-church

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