1st Cen. Christianity - One Organization

by StandFirm 144 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • PSacramento

    According to what we know from the writings we have of those times, from the Apostolic fathers AND fromoutside sources, there was NO central organization BUT there was a council of apostles and elders that would meet to discuss issues, BUT that council was "regional" with various concils spread all over, one in Jerusalem and one Alexandria, one in rome and probably one in every city there was house churches ( which were the places of worship and meetings up until the 4th century.

    That there were different expressions of the Christian faith in various areas is a given and that not ALL of them were accepted as "true representations" is also a given.

    That already in the 2nd and 3rd centuries there were "struggles" for soem sort of central control WITHING the various cities is also evidenced by writings from those periods.

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    Link to Fred Franz's Gilead Graduation talk in pdf. The mp3 is available, too. Just do a google.


    Also, I would like to comment on some of the scriptures in the OP.

    "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer"-1 Timothy 1:3.

    "It is necessary to shut the mouths of these, as these very men keep on subverting entire households"-Titus 1:11.

    "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned."-Titus 3:10, 11.

    Rather than show evidence that an organization was in place, these scriptures tell the reader that Christianity was DISorganized and that Paul didn't like that one bit. Paul wanted everyone to follow his version of Christianity. History shows that he eventually got his way, but not until hundreds of years after his death.

    Besides, what does Paul's opinion on organization have to do with whether his opinion agreed with God? It is going to require more than simply, "Paul wanted there to be organization so God must have, too," to convince most of us.

    "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work."-2 John 9-11.

    Why start in verse 9? John didn't. Why not read the chapter in context? John was talking about people who claim Christ did not come in the flesh, not about people who don't obey some organization.

    You are going to have to quit cherry-picking verses if you expect to get anywhere with the folks here on JWN.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    StandFirm, since you are here, summon up the courage to access any neutral site discussing the compilation and canonization of the NT.

    Peter, Jewish Christians, vs. Paul, Greek Christians. adherence to dietary law and circumcision.

    Read about Nag Hammadi and the Gnostic gospels

    The victors write history. Compare Mark, Jewish audience to Luke, Greek audience.

    Wake up. Note how women were bishops in the early church. And prophetesses. Note JW opinion.

  • Ding

    If the WT argument that God has always had a visible organization to which one must submit in order to be in the truth is correct, then the WTS CANNOT be that organization, because its founder didn't submit to any existing organization but started publishing Zion's Watch Tower apart from any such group. Pastor Russell did not submit to the authority of any pre-existing organization. He even told his readers to beware of organization, that it was totally unnecessary. He got his original date system from the Adventists but never submitted to their organizational authority. No amount of "new light" can change this.

    In the Old Testament, Jehovah consistently went OUTSIDE the "organizational" structure of Israel by sending individual prophets to rebuke wayward kings who were leading His people astray. The "organization" threw them in prison and killed them.

    What about the New Testament?

    The Pharisees and scribes sat in Moses' seat. Yet God went OUTSIDE that structure by sending John the Baptizer and Jesus Christ. It was those "organization" leaders who conspired to kill Jesus himself.

    In Acts, the apostles picked Matthias to replace Judas. We never hear of him again. Instead, Christ went OUTSIDE the existing "organization" and directly commissioned Saul of Tarsus to become an apostle.

    When Paul became an apostle, he did not confer with any of the existing apostles to coordinate or get instructions. He didn't meet with them for 3 years. Gal. 1:15ff

    When Peter and men from James came from Jerusalem to Antioch, Paul didn't submit to their authority. Instead, he opposed them to their face because they were teaching law instead of grace. Indeed, it was the people sent by the Jerusalem apostles that were causing the problem! Gal. 2:11ff. Paul says that he did not subject himself to them for a moment because he wanted to preserve the pure gospel. Gal. 2:5

    The scriptures do not show the early church being governed by a central authority. In fact, Paul RESISTED such efforts. His purpose in going to Jerusalem for the Acts 15 meeting was not to get instructions but to make sure that the pure gospel was being preached.

    As Fred Franz himself pointed out in his September 7, 1975 address to the Gilead graduates, when it was time for missionaries to go to the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Spirit through the Christians meeting in Antioch, not through a centralized organization in Jerusalem. Acts 13:1ff. When Paul and Barnabas reported back in Acts 14, they reported back to those in Antioch who had sent them, not to the apostles in Jerusalem. He went on to point out that the leaders in Jerusalem didn't rebuke them for not being commissioned or reporting to the Jerusalem "organization," that if they had done so they would have been putting themselves above the headship of Christ himself!

    He finished by saying, "So, we see how the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, and has a right to act direct, without whatever other organization is in view, no matter who they are. He is the Head of the church. We can't challenge what HE DOES."

    The WTS regulates worldwide what days JWs can or cannot set aside and observe. By contrast, in the first century some Christians observed certain days as special while others did not. In Romans 14, Paul said this was fine -- in fact, that it was wrong to try to impose one standard on all or judge those who didn't comply with one approach.

    In Acts 17:11, Paul commended the Bereans for making up their own minds as to whether his teaching was in accordance with the scriptures, rather than simply submitting to his teaching as the Thessalonians did.

    In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul says that if ANYONE brings a different gospel than the one he preached, they should not be followed. This requires believers to stand firm even in the face of changing doctrines taught by authority figures, whether men or angels.

    Ephesians 4:14 says that we should not "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine..."

    Does this not apply to the WTS, which -- under the benign heading of "new light" -- has changed its teaching about who does and doesn't get to go to heaven, the identity of Jesus, whether Jesus is to be worshiped, the identity of Michael, whether organ transplants are cannibalism, whether various blood factors can be taken, who the faithful and discreet slave is, what "generation" means, when Jesus returned, on what dates Armageddon will come, and on and on?

  • Terry

    The Roman Empire (civilized world) was vast.

    There was no iPhone uplink. There was no Internet.

    There were no newspapers. Relatively few were conversant with reading beyond signs on shops and such.

    Word of mouth was THE form of communication.

    News spread slowly and by a process inimical to accuracy: conversation!

    Sailors, tradesmen, merchants chatted and reported what had been heard.

    Not unlike today, it was the outrageous and the dangerous topic that got the lead story.

    Now how were a few Jews as persons without prestige, power or standing in this Empire going to CENTRALIZE CONTROL?

    By the time any of them heard there was a problem it had already taken deep root. Consequently, standing around in Jerusalem

    clucking over this and that was the LEAST effective means of governing, controlling, admonishing or correcting error.

    How many epistles from Original Apostles do we have, anyway?

    Paul remains the CHIEF MASTERMIND of othrodoxy solely on the existence of copies of his letters fired to and from congregations he (mostly himself) established.

    How many "fires" was Paul constantly having to put out? How many times did he have to refute traveling competitors with "other" ministries contrary to his own?

    The word COMPETITION is important here.

    Christianity was not this ONE THING....which we NOW imagine 2000 years later.

    Christianity was Judaism first.

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,messianic judaism.

    ...................... gnostic Pauline neo-Judaism.

    .........................; neo-Platonic neo-christian cultism

    as cell after cell subdivided over arguments, debates and ideas.

    Just on the logistics and time frame involved we can see why there was NO CENTRAL GOVERNING BODY until the power of Rome was put behind an Emperor (Constantine) and his fetish for unity.

    Early Church Fathers were all about one particular thing which stands out dramatically in their writings: HERESEY, APOSTACY, ORTHODOXY.

    It was a constant struggle, debate, polemic and mud-wrestling event!

    Take the writings of Papias of Hierapolis.

    I URGE YOU to read the following even though it will take a few minutes. It proves an IMPORTANT POINT.

    The point is this. The oldest and most dedicated interviewer of those still alive who knew or heard Jesus or his apostles wrote 5 books called

    Interpretations of the Sayings of the Lord. What happened to these books? Read on:

    Papias describes his way of gathering information:

    I will not hesitate to add also for you to my interpretations what I formerly learned with care from the Presbyters and have carefully stored in memory, giving assurance of its truth. For I did not take pleasure as the many do in those who speak much, but in those who teach what is true, nor in those who relate foreign precepts, but in those who relate the precepts which were given by the Lord to the faith and came down from the Truth itself. And also if any follower of the Presbyters happened to come, I would inquire for the sayings of the Presbyters, what Andrew said, or what Peter said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which Aristion and the Presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, were saying. For I considered that I should not get so much advantage from matter in books as from the voice which yet lives and remains.

    Thus Papias reports he heard things that came from an unwritten, oral tradition of the Presbyters, a "sayings" or logia tradition that had been passed from Jesus to such of the apostles and disciples as he mentions in the fragmentary quote. The scholar Helmut Koester considers him the earliest surviving witness of this tradition. [ 1 ]

    Eusebius held Papias in low esteem, perhaps because of his work's influence in perpetuating, through Irenaeus and others, belief in a millennial reign of Christ upon earth, that would soon usher in a new Golden Age. Eusebius calls Papias 'a man of small mental capacity [ 2 ] who mistook the figurative language of apostolic traditions'.

    One man's report was another man's bullshit!

  • PSacramento

    Up until Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the "christian church" had NO POWER.

    Let that sink in.

    It was bust trying to survive various persecutions, it had no power to enforce anything, it had no "centralized organization".

    I suggest this book as a good introduction to the "heresy issue" and how different it was in the first 3 centuries to how it was after the 4th and how it was after the 1st millenium.

    Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth Alister Mcgrath

  • EntirelyPossible

    As we can see from this, all the Christians of that time obeyed the direction of the Apostles.

    Logical fail. It doesn't say they reached all towns, all Christians, whether all Christians chose to obey, it doesn't say if all the apostles were in Jerusalem, etc.

    Fail logic fails.

  • Terry

    To each preaching christian their OWN idea of what was true was THE truth.

    Anything different was horrible apostacy.

    There were thousands of such "truths" rampant among the populace.

    Few of these got written down, but, many did.

    Gospels popped up here and there; some of these have been found and are available.

    Further, keep in mind that what bible canon now exists is DIFFERENT from what was THE TRUTH for 2000 years.

    Several New Testament books were ill considered as divinely worthy by authorities.

    Which means what?


    That does not speak well for Central authority.

    In the U.S. we have a bicameral system of government with two parties representing different viewpoints.

    What is the result? Horrible mismanagement, malfeasance, corruption, debt and chaos on a good day.

    Do you think the "governing body" of the 1st century was any different?

  • WontLeave

    The Jehovah's Witnesses claim to only use the Bible as evidence of their beliefs. As we all know, from talking to Trinitarians, a church doctrine can taint what people see when they read Scripture. The litmus test of doctrine is this: If someone were left alone, without outside influence from a church, what beliefs would they come away with when they read the Bible?

    Witnesses would trip over themselves to agree, if someone left to his own devices read the Bible, no way would he come away with the Trinity. By the same token, realistically, would anyone left to his own devices read the Bible and come away with the "faithful and discreet slave" being human overlords? Would someone left to his own devices read the Bible and come away with a cohesive, unified organization where no point was permitted to be questioned?

    When any church starts telling you what something in the Bible "means", hang on to your wallet and your brain, because they're about to make a grab for one of those. The reason JWs read 10 times as much Watchtower literature as they do Bible is to set your mental stage, when you read the Bible. They plant the seeds of what they want you to see, then only show you the verses that could be seen that way. The average JW puts total trust in the WT, so that when it "explains" the context, they just accept it without actually reading the context.

    The account in Acts is obviously Paul going to Jerusalem to tell the Jewish Christians there to get their doctrine right. But the Society paints a picture of Paul going with his hat in his hand to ask for their guidance. Since Paul wasn't there, they present a "1st Century governing body" that didn't include Paul, one of the apostles most used by Holy Spirit. Paul went there to bust heads, but the Watchtower scenario has Paul humbly submitting to the decision of the older men in Jerusalem, then being sent out to spread their decision, like a fresh-faced Gilead graduate. This is so ridiculous, it's not even funny.

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    T his is so ridiculous, it's not even funny.

    Agreed. The book they're studying at book study right now is entirely based on the absurd Borg doctrine you laid out and the JW victims are just lapping it up. It's shameful.

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