Denominations Original Development


Part One


Part One - The Origins of Denominations



1a In the beginning of the church there were no denominations – all churches believed and taught the same

1b At this time the apostles taught and recorded the God’s revelation for the church

2b This revelation was God’s instructions to the church as concerning who it was and how it was to function (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thes. 2:15; 2 Thes. 3:6-7; 2 Pet. 3:15-16)

1c Most of the instruction is to be followed to the letter by all congregations, yet there are some areas where some flexibility is based on

1d Needs of the congregation

2d The culture of the day

3d The leading of the Holy Spirit

2c For example

1d Size and make up church govt.

2d Frequency and manner of celebrating the Lord’s supper

3d The day and time of regular services

2a Even before the death of the apostles, there were divisions already beginning to form which ultimately fragment the church (Rom. 16:17-18)

1b Some taught an other gospel (Gal. 1 :8-9)

2b Some taught a form of Jewish legalism (Gal. 3:2-3)

3b Some taught Gnosticism (1 Tim. 6:20)

4b Some taught to abstain from good things (1 Tim. 4:1-4)

5b Some taught doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4:1-4)


1a #1: Trace these divisive elements as they entered the church that we might better understand the differences in groups today

2a #2: To determine what the original church was like that we might pattern our lives and the congregations we attend after God’s blueprint and not mans (2 Thes. 2:15)


1a The area of disagreement

1b There is no disagreement over God’s covenant with Israel and His fulfillment of His First Coming Prophecies

1c God gave Israel the land of Canaan

2c God would bless them in the land

3c God would bring the Savior of the world through the lineage of David

2b Disagreement arises over Israel’s present relationship with God and the 2nd Coming Prophecies (Acts 28:23-31)

1c Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah – what impact does this have on their relationship with God

2c There are two views

1d The covenant has been broken with God

1e God has given it to another, the church

2e The 2nd Coming prophecies relate to the church

2d The covenant is still in effect with God

1e God chastising Israel while working with the Church

2e The 2nd Coming prophecies still relate to Israel

2a The Description of disagreement

1b View #1: God’s covenant with Israel has been broken

1c Statement

1d Israel's covenant with God was condition upon Israel’s obedience to God and their acceptance of God’s Messiah/Savior

2d Israel failed to live up to these conditions

3d God choose to establish a new covenant with the Church

4d That which originally belonged to Israel is now given to the church including the promises and prophecies

2c Development

1d Jewish School of Allegory

1e 200 years before the birth of Christ, the Greeks developed a system of allegory whereby they might interpret their writings

1f Many of their Greek writings were an embarrassment - gods who fought each other, immoral, jealous, and revengeful

2f Justify them by finding a hidden and more profound meaning than literal understanding

3f This approach eliminated their theological problems and appealed to their intellect – not something average man would do

“The Jewish school in Alexandria adopted this approach for interpreting Scripture (this ultimately would lead to the view of many interpretations, limited understanding to an elite, and importance of inerrancy). . . . In addition to the desire to explain away “oddities” (Lot’s incest, the drunkenness of Noah, difficulties in interpretation) in the Old Testament, the Jews of Alexandria were also moved by the charm of Greek literature and philosophy. To them, Greek philosophy was inspiring, noble, and irresistible. And yet, they could not leave their own Mosaic Law, for it was sacred, binding, and eternal. There should be a way whereby the two might be united. Allegorism went to their rescue. Allegorism enabled the Alexandria Jews to make Moses speak the beautiful philosophy of Plato and other Greek sages.” (Tan. pp. 46-48)

“the allegorical method was not born our of the study of the Scriptures, but rather out of a desire to unite Greek philosophy and The Word of God. It did not come out of a desire to present the truths of the Word but to pervert them.” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, pp. 23-24)

1g Ex. "The journey of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans to Haran speaks of the imaginary trip of a stoic philosopher who leaves sensual understanding and arrives at sense."

2g Ex. speaking of Job, "The patriarch's 3 friends denote heretics; his 7 sons are the 12 Apostles, his 7000 sheep are God's faithful people; and his 3000 humped back camels are the depraved Gentiles."

2d The Seminary at Alexandria (200 AD)

1e Manner: Near the close of the 2nd Century AD, a church Father named Origen adopted the allegorical method of interpretation and through his work, many followed his example

“Origen also taught that the Old and New Testaments contain not only absurd and unreasonable portions, but also fables which did not actually take place. Once Origen asked impatiently, “Of what use… is it to me who have come to hear what the Holy Spirit teaches the human race to be told that Abraham stood under the oak of Mamre?” and forthwith dismissed the account of Genesis 18 as non-actual. He also called parts of the life of Rebecca a concoction of mysteries.” (Tan pp 49-50)

The literal words were only for arriving at the more spiritual and profound sense of Scripture

2e Reasons: Problems of Interpretation

1f Explanation of miracles

2f Christ had not yet returned even though it was imminent

3f Some prophesy difficult to understand with Israel out of the land of Canaan

4f A growing dislike for the Jews for the crucifixion (even though the Romans carried it out)

3e Solution: allegorize difficult passages of Scripture

1f Augustine later refined this practice and applied it only to prophecy and nothing else – this is the view adopted by the fourth century church that later became the Roman Catholic Church

2f Adopted by the Church at Rome it was passed down through the reformation and beyond

3c Doctrine

1d God had rejected (“divorced”) the children of Israel for their refusal to accept the Messiah

1e The Jewish people would no longer hold a special place in God’s program

2e The promises of land, blessings, and a millennial kingdom were take away from them

2d God choose a new people to take the place of Israel - the Church

1e The church would now hold a special place in God’s program

2e All the blessings and promises belonging to Israel would not be bestowed and fulfilled in the church

4c Outcome: the formation of the Roman Catholic Church

1d Covenantal relationship between the church and God is entered into through the a religious act – usually at birth (act of Baptism or circumcision)

2d 2nd Coming prophecy is to be taken allegorical or spiritually, not literally

1e This results in some bizarre interpretation of Scripture

Matthew Henry on Isaiah 11:1-9

“Unity or concord, which is intimated in these figurative promises, that even the wolf shall dwell peaceably with the lamb; men of the most fierce and furious dispositions, who used to bite and devour all about them, shall have their temper so strangely altered by the efficacy of the gospel and grace of Christ that they shall live in love even with the weakest and such as formerly they would have made an easy prey of. . . . .Christ, who is our peace, came to slay all enmities and to settle lasting friendships among his followers, particularly between Jews and Gentiles: when multitudes of both, being converted to the faith of Christ, united in one sheep-fold, then the wolf and the lamb dwelt together; . . A generation of vipers shall become a seed of saints, and the old complaint of homo homini lupus—man is a wolf to man, shall be at an end. Those that inhabit the holy mountain shall live as amicably as the creatures did that were with Noah in the ark”

2e This results in two new views on prophecy

1f Amillennial view: all will get worse and than Jesus will come and usher in eternity

2f Postmillennial view: the church will unite and evangelize the world and invite Jesus to return to establish His Kingdom

3d The church adopts OT worship and salvation

1e Priesthood reestablished

2e Confession to priest

3e Burning Incense

4e Regular sacrifice (Mass & Last Rites)

5e Circumcision enter covenant in OT now Infant Baptism enter covenant

6e High Priest = Pope

7e Altar 

8e Holy Days 

9e Scriptures only for priest 

10e Continual revelation 

11e Holy articles 

12e Hierarchical govt. 

13e Salvation through the Church

5c Reformation

1d With Luther and Calvin an attempt was made to reform the Church – to change or remove the error that had filtered into the church

2d The reformation was fueled also by a movement to put the Scriptures into the language of the people - translations

3d Though the gospel and other important truths were returned to the Teaching and preaching of the church, many of the other views remained

1e Priesthood replaced by the Priesthood of believers

2e Burning Incense replaced by Christian's service

3e Salvation: Church replaced by Salvation: Faith

4e Regular sacrifices replaced by One sacrifice for all

5e Mass: re-crucifixion of Christ replaced by Communion of various views

6e Infant Baptism replaced by Infant Baptism\dedication

7e Pope the Head of Church replaced by Christ the Head of Church

8e Altar remain

9e Holy Days remain

10e Salvation through Church replaced by  Salvation through Christ

11e Amillennial/Postmillennial remains

12e Literal/allegorical Interpret remains

13e Bible not sole authority on faith replaced by Bible sole authority on faith

4d Some of the denominations that have their roots in the Protestant Reformation are: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Episcopalian

2b View #2: God’s covenant with Israel remains in tack

1c Stated

1d God’s covenant was unconditional – it would be kept regardless of what Israel did

2d Because of Israel’s rebellious heart at the First Coming of Christ, the fulfillment of the promises given to Israel were postponed

3d God is preparing the heart of Israel for His coming – this preparation will come to it conclusion in the Tribulation and the Anti-Christ

4d In the meantime, God is working through the Church

2c Development

1d Taught and held by the early Church for the first two centuries and the first 5 by western half of the church (Seminary in Antioch)

2d With the development of the Roman Church, this position was lost from most of the church from 500 AD until the early 1800’s

3d A small remnant of the church maintained the NT style of worship and view on Israel

1e Pastor not a priest 

2e Priesthood of believers 

3e Sacrifice once for all 

4e Believer's baptism 

5e Christ - the High Priest 

6e Pulpit replaces the altar

7e Intercessor - Christ 

8e No incense 

9e Local church governs itself

10e Revelation completed with the 66 books of the Bible

11e Salvation by faith in Christ alone

3c Doctrine

1d Literal understanding of all Scripture including prophetic passages

2d The next event prophetically given is the rapture of the church

3d God will use the Tribulation to restore Israel as His people

4d Christ will establish a thousand year Kingdom on the earth

5d At end, brief rebellion of Satan, resurrection of wicked, judgment, and condemnation

6d Destruction of old and creation of a new world and heavens

4c Validity

1d Nature of the Covenant

1e Unconditional (Gen. 15:7-17)

2e Eternal (Gen. 17:6-8)

2d Consistency of Interpretation: if all other scriptures are to be understood literally, why not also prophecy

3d Pattern of Fulfilled Prophecy: first coming prophecy has been fulfilled literally, it is only logical that Second prophecy be fulfilled literally as well

4d Declaration of NT Scripture

1e Romans 11:1-6, 26-27 states Israel to be restored

2e Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-2; Rev. - two witnesses and 144,000 Jewish witnesses

3e Matt. 24:9, 16 - Jews and tribulation

4e Matt. 17:11-12; Mk. 9:12-13 – Elijah is yet to come


1a Background to the Infiltration

1b The 250 years of the Church’s existence was characterized by persecution

1c First persecution by the Jews: while still in the area of Palestine, the persecution came from Judaism

2c Second persecution by the Romans: as it expanded into the empire, it was not long before Rome became the major source of persecution

1d Much had to do with the rebellion of Israel in 70 AD

2d Rome saw the church as a Jewish cult unleashed its anger against her as well – this reason Paul had to go to Rome to make his case to the Emperor (Acts 23:11; 25:11-12)

2b This persecution continued until 312 AD (1 Cor. 7:29-35)

1c Imprisonment – in chains in dank dark prisons with not toilets, showers, with rats, mice, and lice

2c Torture – crucifixions, beatings, dismemberments

3c Death – crucifixion, games in the coliseums,

4c Slavery

5c Loss of all one possesses

6c No freedom to worship - catacombs

2a The Start of the Infiltration: The Conversion of Emperor Constantine

1b Constantine was raised a staunch believer in Sol worship - the worship of the sun as God

2b Constantine found himself fighting several battles to consolidate his control of the throne - at one of these battles he had a religious experience

“In 312, on the eve of a battle against Maxentius, his rival in Italy, Constantine is reported to have dreamed that Christ appeared to him and told him to inscribe the first two letters of his name (XP in Greek) on the shields of his troops. The next day he is said to have seen a cross superimposed on the sun and the words “in this sign you will be the victor” (usually given in Latin, in hoc signo vinces). Constantine then defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, near Rome. The Senate hailed the victor as savior of the Roman people. Thus, Constantine, who had been a pagan solar worshiper, now looked upon the Christian deity as a bringer of victory. Persecution of the Christians was ended, and Constantine's co-emperor, Licinius, joined him in issuing the Edict of Milan (313), which mandated toleration of Christians in the Roman Empire. As guardian of Constantine's favored religion, the church was then given legal rights and large financial donations”. ("Constantine the Great," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

3a The Effects of the Infiltration

1b Christianity became the state religion

1c The army was baptized

2c Funds and favor were received from the state

2b Christianity became fashionable

1c Unsaved idol worshipping pagans flood the church as new members

2c Many brought into the church pagan traditions which were incorporated, into the doctrine and practice of the church

1d Prayer for the dead" and the sign of the cross 310

2d Wax candles" - 320

3d Veneration of angels and dead saints" – 375

4d Relic worship": the first Pope’s mother, who was later renamed "Saint Helena", was reported to have found the true cross on which Jesus died (her feast day is on August 18) – 325

4a The Biblical approach to Infiltration

1b Separation is our individual responsibly

1c To be in the world without being a part of the world – like citizens of American living in Russia

2c This is a hard to do

1d We can not evangelize the lost without being with them (1 Cor. 5:9-11)

2d It is hard to distinguish what is cultural and what is worldly

3d Everyone wants to be accepted (James 4:4-5) not persecuted (John 15:18-19)

2b Separation is our congregation’s responsibility (paper on unity – where does the Bible put its focus on? or on separation?)

1c Separation from the world (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

1d Unbelievers are welcome to enter our congregations, rich and poor, Gentile and Jew, male and female (James 2:1-4)

1e Services should not be designed to appeal to the unbeliever

1f They should seek to worship God

2f They should seek to edify the believers (1 Cor. 14:26)

3f They should seek to evangelize the lost

2e Those who minister in the services should always be believers

2d Our congregations are not to participate with other congregations who do not proclaim the gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

2c Separation from other believers

1d Unrepentant heart: Saint who refuses to make a matter right (Matt. 18:15-17)

2d Divisiveness: The devise individual – division and causes of stumbling contrary to the teachings of the NT (Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:3-11)

3d Pattern of sin: “brother” living in sin (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 9-13)

4d False doctrine: The brother who will not abide by the teaching of NT (2 Thes. 3:14-15)

5d Compromised faith: Those who have a form of godliness but deny the power (2 Tim. 1:3-5)


1a Position Practiced: the competition of the NT did not end additional revelation from God

1b Writings of the Church Father and the practices of the laity became inspired revelation when widely accepted and proclaimed by Church Councils (The Council of Trent, 1545, declared that tradition is of equal authority with the Bible

1c Mary: “Mother of God” – Council of Ephesus - 431

2c Worship of the cross, images, and relics – Council called by Hadrian I – 788

3c Inquisition of heretics – Council of Verona – 1184

4c The Bible forbidden to laymen and placed on the list of forbidden books - 1229

5c Purgatory – Council of Florence - 1439

2b The proclamations of the Pope: (Papal Infallibility was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX - 1870)

1c The Latin language became the language of prayer and worship – Gregory – 600

2c The celibacy of the Priest – Boniface VII – 1079

3c The doctrine of Transubstantiation and confession of sins – Innocent III – 1215

3b Teaching of the Priest was not to be questioned (“no private interpretation’”

4b The apocrypha is added as Scriptures (Council of Trent 1546)

2a The Position Corrected

1b Revelation from God to the Church ceased with the completion of the NT (1 Cor. 13:8-12; 2 Tim. 3:16-18; Rev. 22:18-19)

2b Each believer is responsible to know truth based on his/her own study of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15)

1c The Holy Spirit lead us into all truth (John 16:13) and that truth is His Word (John 17:17; Heb. 1:1)

2c Paul commended the Berean Christians for searching out the Scriptures (Acts. 17:10-11)

3c The Scriptures are open for all to understand (2 Pet. 1:20-21)


Part One