The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: Lesson 3 - First Purist Protests
It should be noted that during the post-apostolic time a slow but sure separation was taking place. The name Christian would now have to be qualified by the particular beliefs of individual pastors and churches.
We must look back to this time to find our ancestors but should realize that much is muddied by time and the writings of those who opposed the true church and the doctrine it stood and died for. Also bear in mind that some of these forebearers would shock us with their strictness and practices, though not their doctrine. On the other hand, we would, I’m sure, appear worldly and compromising to them.
We are looking for "threads of gold" woven through the torn and soiled fabric of history which at times is almost impossible to clearly follow. However, we are not dependent upon a clear history or the men who recorded and sometimes distorted it, instead our faith is in the promises of Jesus Christ. He promised that the church He founded would stand against the gates of hell, therefore we know that the true church did not die out and did not need to be reformed nor will it ever cease until He comes to take her home.
The threads of gold or trail of blood that we search for are the true church or Baptist distinctives that mark the church that Jesus promised would continue until he comes back and claims it for His bride.
Death of Ignatius, pastor of Antioch
Ignatius was arrested and transported to Rome where he was killed in the arena by wild beasts around 140 AD. As he was transported by ten soldiers who bulled and mistreated him, he wrote letters to the church along the way and to his friend Polycarp. When he was condemned and waiting for his death it is said that his guards could hear him repeating the name Jesus (Jesu in Latin) over and over again.
When they asked him why we answered, “My dear Jesus, my Saviour, is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confident, that if my heart were to be cut open and chopped to pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece.”
The True Churches Resist: Early Ancestors and Lines of Descent
The Paulicians: 100 AD - 1000 AD
In “The Key of Truth,” the Paulicians claimed a direct lineage from the apostles. The name Paulicians though, began with Constantine in 650 AD. Constantine obtained a copy of the New Testament and became to strive zealously for “faith once delivered to the saints.” The Bible was the sole authority of the church and therefore he preached against the Catholic teachings that the Church and tradition had the same authority as the Word of God. Because of his love for the writings of the apostle Paul, he and his followers were labeled Paulicians. They also renamed themselves with name from the Bible to replace their pagan names. In addition, they named their churches after the names of the churches in the New Testament.
“The Paulician preachers were known by their humility, holy lives, great zeal, knowledge of the Bible, and the refusal to gather riches after the fashion of the Catholics.” – David Cloud
They were often called other names through history. Names like the Albigensians from the name of the town in France, Paterian, an Italian term for illiterate or low bred because they were chiefly of the lower order of the men. The Cathari which means the pure and Bogamils probably from the name of a leader in the 10th century.
Their doctrine. They accepted the scripture as the sole authority for faith and practice and rejected man-made traditions and heresies. They held to sound doctrine including the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, and the sufficiency of the Lord's atonement. They believed in regenerate church membership. Before baptism the candidates were scrutinized to try to certain if they had been born again. They rejected infant baptism and rebaptized those who came from unscriptural churches. They believe in holy, separated living. The aforementioned pastor stated that the Christian life consists in separating from the evil things of the world, in bridling carnal lust, and living by the labor of their hands, and hurting nobody, and in being charitable and kind. They believed in the autonomy the church and rejected a Catholic hierarchy. Each church had its own leaders. There were no bishops ruling over all the churches in a territory. There were no popes. Their church leaders were humble men who did not exalt themselves as Lords.
They believed in liberty of conscience and freedom of religion.
The Paulician were missionary sending churches. The persecutions that were poured out upon them beginning in the 7th century caused them to be scattered throughout Europe, everywhere carrying a new testament faith. The Lutheran historian motion says from Italy the pollution sent colonies into almost all the other provinces of Europe, and gradually formed a considerable number of religious assemblies, who adhered to their doctrine and who realized every opposition and indignity from the popes.
From temperance, they sent out missionaries 2 by 2 to the various tribes of the Slavonic people in Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Serbia, rocket says, the free city of Trepice was the center and seat of a missionary enterprise which has had no parallel since the time of the apostles. The missionary elders sent forth two and two sustained by their brethren at home, throughout Bulgaria Bosnia and Serbia, preaching the word and the Pagan Bulgarians and Bosnics were converted in such numbers that the enemies of the Greek church began to add to their other previous names which they gave to the pollutions out of Bulgers, which after a time was corrupted into board race by which term among other there was known for centuries.
Their persecutions. Because they were trying to follow the Bible alone and rejected man-made traditions, they were bitterly persecuted Constantine later named Silvanius, was stoned to death in 690 for his love of the word of God. The Greek officer who oversaw the stoning of Constantine, was named Simeon. He lined up the followers of Constantine and promised them liberty if they would stone their leader. One man justice came forth and he subsequently betrayed many others of this former comrades. The cruel Simeon, convicted by the calm martyrdom of the believers, was later converted. He left his position of worldly honor and fortune and became the leader of the spice people in the place of Constantine. In his turn Simeon was burned to death. Another leader of the politicians Sergius was cut into two pieces with an axe. In those days an entire group of politicians was burned to death in one enormous funeral pyre. Theodora ( 815 to 867, Mother of emperor Michael the third of the Byzantine Empire, vowed to exterminate all Paulicians in her Kingdom, and is estimated that 100,000 were put to death and all their property and lands were confiscated.
Origin of the name: it was given to them by their enemies because of their attachment to the writings of Paul. Many true churches branched from the Paulicians.
Beliefs: Orthodox view of Trinity, baptism of believers by immersion, separation from the world.
Issues: They opposed infant baptism, orders in the clergy, and opposed image worship.
Leaders: Constantine 660 AD renamed himself Silvanus and called churches he founded after congregations in Acts.
Beliefs: True Baptism, strict separation from world, leadership of Holy Spirit. Rebaptism of those coming into the true faith from Catholicism.
Issues: Separation from the state and worldliness of the church at large.
Questions: Divine revelation, strenuous asceticism. “Montanus and his followers spoke in tongues, had visions, and claimed to be the direct mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit; they demanded celibacy, asceticism, and all sorts of unscriptural things.” – David Cloud.
Leaders: Montanaus (156 AD) and Tertullian (197 AD) later broke with the Montanists.
Novatians also called the Cathari (the pure) (250 AD - 1500's )
The Novatian churches started in Italy and spread from there. These churches were founded during the conflict over the purity of the church. Novatian, an elder in the church at Rome, was grieved of the lack of holiness in the churches. There was no spiritual requirement for church membership, and members would renounce Christ in times of persecution and return to their idols, but when the persecution ceased they would again seek church membership with no evidence of repentance and salvation.
They maintained Apostolic doctrine, including the doctrine of the Trinity and Jesus Christ as the eternal son of God. They believed in the autonomy and independence of the church. They rejected the Roman Catholic heresy that the assemblies are ruled by territorial bishops.
Novatian churches rebaptized those who joined from the Roman churches because they did not accept their baptism in the Roman churches as scriptural since those churches allowed people to join who were not born again.
Beliefs: Independence of the churches, equality of pastors, rebaptism of those coming from worldly churches. Separation from the world.
Questions: Novatian was baptized by affusion while on his sick bed, though he was later immersed. Some say that later he declared himself a rival to a rival to Pope Cornelius.
Issues: Worldliness of the Roman Church and clerics.
Leaders: Novatian (martyred about 290 AD)
Donatists (311 AD - 1000 AD)
Donatist arose in the Numidia, in the year 311 and soon extended over many parts of Africa. They were sound and doctrine accepting the deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity. They believed in the autonomy and independence of the church. They rejected the heresy of hierarchalism which set up bishops and patriarchs and popes over the churches.
They rejected infant baptism. Augustine one of the Catholic Church fathers hated them for this because infant baptism was one of the heresies that he loved. They rebaptized those who came from unscriptural churches. They believed in liberty of conscience and rejected the Augustinian doctrine of persecution.
“The Donatist stood for liberty of conscience and they were opposed to the state church which was already beginning to persecute those who refused to submit to its authority and doctrine. The Donatist pastor, Petillion said, “Think you to serve God by killing us with your hand? Ye, err, if ye, poor mortals, think this; God has not hangmen for pastors. Christ teaches us to bear wrong, not to revenge it.”
Beliefs: Separation of Church and State, baptism by immersion of believers, independence of the church.
Questions: Donatus subject to Constantine until he split over ordination.
Issues: Faithfulness of Christians and infant baptism.
Leaders: Donatus bishop of Carthage in North Africa.
The Bogomils: a branch of Paulicians in Thrace
Origin of name: from one of their leaders or the word which means "Beloved of God."
Beliefs: Baptism of believers by immersion, symbolic Lord's supper
Issues: Opposition to Pedobaptism, church hierarchy, Mariolatry, saint worship, and a belief in church
The Albigensians: probably descended from Paulicians
Origin of name: from city of Albi and region of Albigeiois in Southern France.
Beliefs: Church should consist of good people, with no power to frame any constitutions, they could not take oaths, it was not lawful to kill, not right to persecute. They also believe that the law of Moses was not for Christians. No need of priests. They practiced baptism by immersion.
Questions: Late in their history, some labeled the Albigensians as Gnostics. The Catholic church led a crusade against the Cathars, as they were now called and wiped them out completely.
Issues: Opposition to infant baptism, superstition and Catholic church hierarchy.
The Cathar Genocide
The Catholic Church under Pope Innocent III, called for a crusade against the Abigensians in Southern France. Any nobleman who killed the Cathars could have their land and possessions and like all crusades under the popes. All sin was forgiven even before they were committed. This led to the slaughter of entire cities and villages.
One contemporary chronicler wrote, “They hurried into the town, waving sharp swords, and it was now that the massacre and fearful butchery began. Men and women, barons, ladies, babes in arms, were all stripped and despoiled and put to the sword. The ground was littered with blood, brains, fragments of flesh, limbless trunks, hacked-off arms and legs, bodies ripped up or stove in …. [I]t was as if they had rained down from the sky. The whole place ran with blood — streets, fields, river-bank. Neither man nor woman, young or old, survived; not a single person escaped unless they remained in hiding.”
When a representative of the Catholic church was asked how to identify the good town-dwellers from the bad, he responded, "Kill them All! God will know his own!”
Origin of name: named for Peter of Bruys, preacher in France about 1100 AD.
Beliefs: That the Gospel was literal, Scripture was the only accepted truth. In baptism of believers by immersion and that the Lord's supper was not sacramental.
Issues: They stood against infant baptism, and the universal (catholic) church
Leaders: Peter of Bruys, burned in St. Gilles 1126.
The Henricians: sprung from Petrobrussians.
Origin of name: Followers of Henry of Lausanne.
Beliefs: Baptism of believers by immersion,
Issues: Rejected infant baptism,
Leaders: Henry of Lausanne 1116- 1148 AD a disciple of Peter of Bruys. Died in prison after being hunted down by Bernard of Clairvaux, a famous and ruthless inquisitor, on orders from Pope Eugene III.
Origin of name: from Arnold of Brescia, 1100 AD to 1148 AD. He was taken prisoner in a rebellion against the pope in Rome. He was then hanged, his body burned and ashes thrown into Tiber River.
Beliefs: Mostly historical first church doctrine
Questions: Led a rebellion against the Pope in Rome.
Issues: rejected infant baptism,
Leaders: Arnold of Bresicia 1100 AD to 1148 AD.
Origin of name: from Berengarius
Questions: Berengarious taught in Catholic school until he was condemned by a Catholic council.
Issues: Spiritual independence and opposition to Rome. No infant baptism.
The Waldensian Churches
The Waldensians were churches of the mountains of northern Italy and France. They were descended from the early movements of the Albigensians, Arnoldists and Paulicians.
They survived in the Alps and Piedmont Mountains for centuries while persecuted as heretics.
Origin of name: from the Italian word "Valdese or Waldesi” which means a valley. These were people who lived in mountain valleys.
Beliefs: Baptist beliefs, strong evangelism, spreading of Bible in native language, no taking of oaths.
Leaders: Peter Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyon, France. Who upon conversion, sold his possessions and believed that all should hear the word of God. He published the Bible in the native French tongue and sent out itinerant preachers two by two to preach in houses and on street corners. They were known as the "Poor men of Lyons."
Questions: Peter Waldo was a Roman Catholic for many years even after his conversion. He also sent his daughters to a convent. In modern times women were ordained pastors. After the reformation the Waldensians willingly joined the "Reformed" church and began to baptize infants.
Issues: Obedience to God rather than man, the Bible as only rule of faith and practice, and the importance of preaching.
Leaders: Peter Waldo, a rich citizen of Lyon, France. Who upon conversion, believed that all should hear the word of God. He published the Bible in the native French tongue and sent out itinerant preachers two by two to preach in houses and on street corners. The were know as the "Poor-men-of- Lyons."
Major Lines of Descent: The Anabaptists (rebaptizers)
Paulicians: Sheltered in Armenian, then spread to Western Europe.
Albigensians: From the region of Albi in France. Sheltered in Southern France and Northern Italy.
Waldenses: Hidden in the valleys of the Alps and Piedmont Valleys.
Baptist churches are the churches of Christ, and ...thye alone hold, and have alone ever held, and preserved the doctrine of the Godpel in all ages since the ascension of Christ. - J.R. Graves.