By Loren N. Raines
As we travel today we often see the warning sign, “Beware!” “Danger!” If we are wise, we take heed and move with caution. A red lantern serves as a warning of danger. The apostle John hung out the danger sign when he said, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). Had this danger sign been heeded as the years have passed since the church was established there would have been no apostasy either from, or of the church. Unfortunately, this warning has not been heeded. Hence the division that exists in the religious world today.
The course of the falling away which resulted in the apostate church was characterized by two phases, both of which stemmed from the same basic cause – unwillingness to “abide in the doctrine of Christ.” The first phase had to do with the organization of the church, the second phase was in the realm of doctrine. In both cases the early members of the church were trying to improve upon God’s plan. They were not satisfied with things written, and failed to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.
In the year 120, the practice of using holy water was introduced into the church. This water was said to be especially blessed by the priest. In the year 157 the doctrine of penance crept into the church. Doubtless this grew out of asceticism, which was not unknown or uncommon in some religious circles before the church was established. Penance was the subjugation of the body to some self-imposed physical agony or pain, in order that one might expiate his own sins.
The next departure was the introduction of Latin Mass. According to their own definition, “mass” is “the sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ through the ministry of the priest, offers himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearance of the bread and wine” (Baltimore Catechism, p. 239). This was in 394. The doctrine of extreme unction and last rites appeared in 588. When a soul is subject to some impending crisis, or to immediate danger, either physical or spiritual, the priest pours oil on the head, and thus prepared the endangered person for the ordeal through which he must pass.
In the year 593 the unscriptural doctrine of purgatory reared its ugly head. This doctrine holds that those who died unprepared and without hope, may be freed from the agonies of torment in which they are writhing, by the payment to the priest of a sufficient sum of money. This became popular because it provided much revenue with which to build cathedrals.
As the years passed new departures came. Transubstantiation appeared in the year 1000. This doctrine claimed that through the power of prayer the fruit of the vine and the bread are mystically changed into the literal body and blood of Christ. By the year 1015 it was decided that priests ought not to marry, hence the doctrine of celibacy.
One of the most damnable of doctrines was introduced in 1190. This was known as the doctrine of indulgence. if you wanted to “paint the town red” you could purchase a license to commit most any sin. By paying a stipulated fee, your sins would be forgiven before they were committed. This was very popular because you could sin to your heart’s content with a good conscience. Thus more fine cathedrals were built.
Auricular confession came into practice in 1215. This doctrine taught that when a Christian sinned he could confess his sin to the priest and his sin would be forgiven. The practice of sprinkling for baptism was adopted by the Council of Ravenna in 1311. It had been practiced in the event of serious illness since the year 251, but was not formally indorsed until the Council of Ravenna.
These departures in doctrine naturally corrupted the worship, consequently, the apostasy was now complete. By substituting the commandments and doctrines of men for the law of the Lord they corrupted the organization, the doctrine, and the worship of the church. The whole process required 1300 years. N.B. Hardeman said, “This ecclesiasticism is purely-of human origin. It is human in origin; it is human in doctrine; it is human in practice. The best definition I could render of such a hierarchy would be to say that it is a mixture of Judaism, paganism and Christianity. “
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 20, p. 615
October 20, 1983