Archive for April, 2008

Justin Martyr: Father of False Doctrine

21 April, 2008

Justin Martyr is hailed by the Roman Catholic Church as one of the great Church Fathers of the Catholic faith. His doctrinal ideas widely influenced the nascent Catholic Church, and Justin invented a Christology based strongly on the Hellenistic philosophers that he studied before his conversion. Ultimately, his dogma laid the foundation for Trinitarianism by segmenting the Godhead into persons and attempting to explain the Creator with vain and heathen philosophies.

Born to Greek parents in 100 AD, Justin studied Stoic, Peripatetic, Pythagorean, and Platonist philosophy in Ephesus (Chadwyck 93). He was converted to Christiantiy but retained a great respect for pagan philosophers. Justin believed that the ancient Greek philosophers had a partial revelation of scriptural truth through an impartation of the Logos: “And those who live according to the Logos are Christians, even though they may have been counted as atheists-such as Socrates and Heraclitus, and others like them, among the Greeks” (qtd. in McGrath 3).

Justin was a Platonist and subscribed to Plato’s theory of universal forms, or the idea that invisible ideals are the most supreme form of reality. Justin ultimately hailed Plato as a prophet, contriving a Christian interpretation of Plato’s writings, whom he believed to have a prefigured understanding of the Trinity of God and the redemptive Cross of Christ: “And the physiological discussing concerning the Son of God in the Timaeus of Plato, where he says, ‘He placed him crosswise in the universe,’ he borrowed in like manner from Moses.” Additionally, he locates in Plato his own idea concerning the numerical uniqueness of the Logos as separate from God, Plato’s Prime Mover: “Which things Plat reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise, he said that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe” (qtd. in Roberts and Donaldson 58). Justin superimposes his false perceptions of the God of the Bible on the Platonic models of invisible principles to produce a distinction between the Father and Son, the invisible and the visible.

Justin’s “Logos Christology” is responsible for the extra-biblical notion of the pre-existent Son of God. Justin equated the Logos of St. John 1 with God the Son. He ascribed to God’s divine and redemptive plan, both personality and function, numerically separate from the impassable God: “For we worship and love, next to God, the Logos, who comes from the unbegotten and ineffable God, since it was for our sake that he became a human being” (qtd in McGrath 3).

In his First Apology, Justin pronounces a Trinitarian devotion to ” . . . the most true God, the Father of righteousness . . . and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the Prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore . . . ” (qtd. in Placher 32). While the passage even seems to indicate the worshipfulness of angels, it certainly distinguishes between the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Further corrupting the original Apostolic teaching of the mighty God in Christ, Justin Martyr expanded the biblical baptismal formula to “in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit” (qtd. in Roberts and Donaldson 60). This is an obvious innovation and does not follow the traditional Trinitarian invocation of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” but attempts to retain the personal name of Christ, the proper New Testament rubric for Christian baptism, while exploding Justin’s tri-personal Godhead.

The connection between Justin Martyr’s Christological ideas and the vain philosophies of the Hellenistic heathen are indisputable. His clear reverence for Greek philosophers and his repeated appeals to their logic to produce his Trinitarian construct is perhaps the earliest example of pronounced apostasy in the post-Apostolic Church. This theological innovation further proves the fact that the Trinity is indeed completely foreign to the first generation of Christians, and later patristical writings (i.e. Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean III) confirm that the idea of a tripartite God was utterly foreign to the universal Catholic Church well into the third century. St. Paul’s Apostolic admonition completely discredits Justin and his demonic doctrine: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2.8-9). Certainly, through the Spirit of prophecy, Paul was speaking to a generation who would forsake the simplicity of the doctrine of Christ for the foolishness of the world. Justin preached “another Jesus” and “another Gospel.” His Christ was not the Christ of God but was a lesser deity, a mere conduit of a God unknowable and unknown, the god of Plato. The dogma of the Trinity is, in fact, built upon the Justinian sand of such foolishness and will one day perish with all such prideful foolishness that obscures the glory of the One True & Living God, Jesus Christ, from the eyes of those fettered by tradition!

Sources:

Chadwyck, H. “Justin Martyr, St.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 93-95. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. BALL STATE UNIV. 10 Mar. 2008 .

McGrath, Alister E. The Christian Theology Reader, 3rd. ed. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Placher, William. Readings in the History of Christian Theology. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988.

Roberts, Alexander Rev. and James Donaldson. Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325. Edinburgh: L & T Clark, 1867. 

God Completely Heals Stroke Victim!

12 April, 2008

NOTE:  While this is not technically historical, it does document the work of God for future generations!

On October 16, 2007, God performed an astounding miracle for Sis. Judie Ritchie, a member of River of Life in Muncie. In October 2001, Sis. Ritchie experienced her first stroke. This incident was followed by a series of Transient Ischemic Attacks, so-called ministrokes. In February 2002, she was hospitalized at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie and continued to suffer debilitating attacks over the next five years.

The strokes left Sis. Ritchie’s body partially paralyzed and greatly weakened. Drained of energy, she was unable to do housework and perform usual tasks. She walked with a cane and sometimes used a walker because of the hemiplegia in her right leg and foot, which were paralyzed and turned outward, causing her to fall often. She also experienced paralysis in two fingers on her right hand and was unable to take proper hold of things. Sister Ritchie had a knot in her abdomen that was also paralyzed, and the left side of her face was paralyzed, effecting her speech.

During the night of October 15, 2007, Sis. Ritchie experienced yet another ministroke. She woke to discover her mouth badly drawn down and had difficulty moving. By faith, she struggled to get ready for the weekly Ladies’ Prayer meeting held on Tuesday mornings at River of Life. “I almost stayed home,” says Sis. Ritchie, “but I’m so glad I ended up going!”

Approximately fifteen women were gathered for the meeting. Toward the end of the meeting, the sisters gathered in a prayer circle. A chair was placed in the center of the circle, and several of the sisters sat in the chair by turn to receive special prayer. When Sis. Ritchie took the seat, the ladies began to fervently pray the prayer of faith in the Name of Jesus, laying hands on her. Sis. Ritchie gives all the glory to God for what happened next!

I felt a weight like big heavy bricks in my feet, and it began to go up my legs. My right foot and leg moved back into position. The feeling continued to move up my body, and the knot in my stomach disappeared. The tingling in my fingers went away, and the feeling moved up my left arm into my shoulder and onto the left side of my face. My mouth moved back into place, and the paralysis left me!

When the sisters realized what God was doing, they began to rejoice with Sister Ritchie for the miracle God was performing.

For six years, Sis. Ritchie had not been able to play the accordion. She got up from the chair and picked up Sis. Margaret Martin’s accordion and began to play “There’s Something About That Name.” The sweet Spirit of the Lord began to move in a very powerful way.

Sis. Ritchie left the church and drove to Pastor John Martin’s home and testified of the miracle she had received. She then visited her two sisters and prayed for them. When her husband came home that evening, he asked if she had gotten the mail. She replied that she hadn’t and rose from her chair to walk with him to the mailbox. He was astounded at her movement and agreed to attend Bible Study that night with his wife.

Pastor Martin called Sis. Ritchie to the platform to give her testimony. She explained the supernatural healing that God had given her and joyfully ran the perimeter aisles of the church, igniting powerful praise and worship for God’s undeniable healing power!

Sis. Ritchie made an appointment to see her internist, Dr. Mohammed Bahrami. The doctor was amazed at her miraculous recuperation and recorded on his official report: “A miracle happened to her at church as she received prayer from her lady friends.”

God still answers prayer! Jesus said: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, that will I do . . .” (Jn. 14.13). Sis. Ritchie’s healing is a dynamic testimony of the divine power that resides in the omnipotent Name of Christ Jesus! He is still Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that Heals! 

When Radio Was Wrong

7 April, 2008

Pentecostals have always viewed mass media technologies with warranted suspicion, fearing their invasive capacity to influence the Christian home and morals. With the advent of home radios in the 1920s, there was widespread social and religious concern about radio and its long-term effects on listeners. The Church was a vocal opponent of immoral radio programming, and many worried that Christian broadcasting would ultimately damage the local churches.

Initially, radio was hailed as a tool for education and cultural enrichment, but broadcasts quickly degenerated. Soap operas developed, and evening programming soon filled the daytime airwaves with shows like Trouble House, Lonely Women, and John’s Other Wife, captivating housewives with their melodramatic depictions of adultery, intrigue, and illicit love. During the 1930s, evening programs increasingly included crime and suspense dramas like The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet, closely followed by the appearance of supernatural horror shows like The Inner Sanctum, whose famous introduction of a dissonant organ and creaking door lured adults and children into thrilling tales of ghosts, lunatics, and murderers (Starker 112-113). Such so-called entertainment seems completely innocuous to modern audiences who are desensitized by the pedestrian vulgarity of television and Hollywood films, but psychologists, parents, and preachers raised voices of legitimate concern about the meaning and menace of radio programming.

In a 1932 article from the Journal of Adult Education, educators were cautioned about the potential ill effects of radio:

All great human inventions, even printing, even language itself, have proved to be two-edged swords. They can do as much evil as good. Radio is as great-and as dangerous-as any. It will not, in careless hands, bring on any millenniums, and it can broadcast injury and discord and ugliness into the farthest reaches of inhabited space. To be light-minded about the radio is to jig along a precipice. (Bryson 234)

In 1933, Arthur Man contributed an article to Scribner’s, lamenting the criminal content of so many radio programs, noting that “every form of crime known to man” made up the plot of many children’s programs on the radio. He reviewed twenty-five juvenile programs for the article and could only recommend two fit for children, concluding: “I should like to postpone my children’s knowledge of how to rob a bank, scuttle a ship, shoot a sheriff, the emotional effects of romantic infidelity, jungle hazards, and the horrors of the drug habit for a few more years at least” (qtd. in Starker 117).

Bro. William Booth-Clibborn contributed a number of articles to Pentecostal periodicals on the subject of radio. In a June 1933 piece, he lamented about the down-spiraling immorality of radio:

The last five years have seen a complete change both in the tone and in the material of that which is permitted to be broadcast. Murder mysteries, sex serials, detective stories, absurd banalities with the most fantastic fables are mingled together in the most heterogeneous mixture, curses and groans, shrieks and sobs, revolver reports, Machiavelian madnesses, the description of bloodthirsty encounters and debauching banquets is all scrambled together . . . We are waiting to hear the first
voice that is raised by a Christian spokesman against the modern menace that radio presents to the immature minds of Christian childhood raised up in a protective atmosphere of homes that should take a firm stand against the blasts of this breath of hell. It is impossible to “bring every thought to the obedience of Christ and to cast down every foolish imagination” as we are commanded of Paul, and listen to the modern radio programs. (Booth-Clibborn, “Radio Menace” 13)

In another article, he quipped about the voyeuristic lovemaking on radio: “Crooner’s Curse. Generally people make love privately but the fool crooner uses radio’s immense mouth to fill the air with his sentimental pains” (Booth-Clibborn, “Pulse . . .” 13). Clearly, radio seemed a clear enough enemy of Godly living and Christian morality.

Despite such assessments, many groups, including Pentecostals, began using the radio to broadcast religious services. However, as early as 1923, some members of the clergy noticed that wireless worship had an unwanted side effect-decreased church attendance. Parishioners were prone to simply stay home from church and listen to services via the radio. Cardinal Dubois, the Catholic Archbishop of Paris, France, posited that radio was indeed an anemic substitute for church attendance as “the radio cannot convert sinners.” Bishop Wilson R. Stearly, an Episcopal churchman from Newark, New Jersey rhetorically asked: “Why go to your parish church when you can sit at ease in your parlor and hear the heavenly music of a capable choir and be charmed by the fervid eloquence of a magnetic preacher?” He identified radio as “another ally of those forces which make more difficult the assembling of the faithful for praise and prayer” (“Radio Cutting Down . . . ” E1).

While radio ultimately proved to be an efficient technological vehicle for the worldwide delivery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it cannot be said that the Apostolic Church, or denominational Christianity in general, impacted radio. Radio ministry never eclipsed or even seriously competed with the seductive soap operas or hi-fi horror shows. The immorality of nascent radio gradually desensitized audiences to the once taboo topics of sex and crime, invading the Christian home and mind with vice and violence and created a ready-made audience for the evils of television in the 1950s. Modern radio continues to be a minefield for the Christian, filled with prurient talk shows, secular music, and celebrity gossip. With the passage of time and the deadening of society’s sensibilities, The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet seem almost completely innocent to modern listeners. Such automatic divestiture of offense should make us keenly aware of the debilitation of social concern and religious conviction. Let us heed the call of God’s Spirit to the observance of a stricter and much higher standard for all entertainment, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, [that] we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2.12).

Sources:

Booth-Clibborn, William. “Crooner’s Curse.” The Pentecostal Evangel Vol. 26, No. 3: December 1993, pg. 12.

Booth-Clibborn, William. “The Radio Menace.” The Pentecostal Evangel Vol. 25, No. 9: June 1933, pg. 13.

Bryson, Lyman. “The Revolt of the Radio Listener.” Journal of Adult Education Vol. 4: 1932, pp. 234-239.

“Radio Cutting Down Church Attendance by Broadcasting Services, Says Bishop.” New York Times 27 May 1923, E1.

Starker, Steven. Evil Influences: Crusades Against the Mass Media. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1989.