THE ERROR OF CREEDS AND DIVISIONS OF MEN
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isa_9:6
Anything that is a creed of men will not stand in the sight of God. We are to hold with our lives the Bible as our rule of faith and Christ alone is Lord. This goes deeper than a statement to be memorized and recited as catechism. Nothing can supplant or replace scripture as the ultimate authority and our supreme love for God and loyalty to the New Testament teachings.
Irenaeus identifies that both inspired apostolic oral and written tradition are carefully preserved by the churches in succession over time. It is obvious from the passage that scripture is included in this category of "ancient tradition of the apostles". To say it excludes scripture, as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches say it does, and then say the text only discusses oral tradition, is as unwarranted as it is silly. The oral tradition that is identified in the text is in fact a creed (in blue) that is identical to the scriptures. Had this oral tradition contained a key doctrine not found in scripture, then the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches would have a powerful point. Our view of sola Scriptura is reinforced by this passage. What this passage is talking about happens all the time today when we spontaneously and unexpectedly teach a sinner the gospel in a city park when we have no Bible in hand. We rely on "oral tradition" in the absence of written documents. Had Irenaeus' creed (in blue) included any extra biblical doctrines like, the perpetual virginity and assumption of Mary, infant baptism, triple baptism; the sign of the cross etc., then Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders would still only have a weak argument at best. But since there are no extra biblical doctrines, it actually supports our view that all "inspired apostolic tradition" was also contained in scripture. We are not denying "oral apostolic tradition", we merely say it is identical with scripture. Irenaeus said: "1. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches? 2. To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 3, 4, 1-2)
The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches love to quote (Tertullian, the Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter XIII) as proof that Tertullian had an oral apostolic tradition that was distinct from scripture. We who teach sola Scriptura, actually have no problem agreeing! Tertullian calls this oral tradition, "the rule of faith". We agree that it was a creed, but notice it contains absolutely nothing, except what the scriptures specifically reveal. This would have been a powerful witness for the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches if such a "rule of faith" actually contained doctrinal details not found in scripture like: the perpetual virginity and assumption of Mary; infant baptism; triple baptism; the sign of the cross etc. In fact, Tertullian's "rule of faith" is proof of our major premise, namely, that all such "apostolic traditions" that were considered essential were based entirely (100%) upon scripture. Even in the Lord's true church today, any member at random, if asked from the pulpit, could give a similar "one paragraph summary" of the true faith. Even the apostle Paul gives a similar type of "one paragraph summary" of doctrine in 1 Cor 15:3-8. Of course, we must take issue with Tertullian's "rule of faith" on one key point: While he views this extra-biblical, man-made document authoritative in itself, even if it is directly based upon scripture, the correct approach is to give it no more authority than the many different "one paragraph summaries of faith" each member might give. Tertullian's creed, began a very dangerous trend where eventually, as we see in most denominations today, creeds have actually supplanted and replaced scripture as the ultimate authority. "Now, with regard to this rule of faith-that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend-it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen "in diverse manners" by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics." (Tertullian, the Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter XIII)
Augustine, like all the fathers, believed that every phrase in the Nicene creed had its origin in the scripture, not some "unwritten oral tradition of the apostles". He calls the creed, "Rule of Faith" which was first used by Tertullian in 200 AD. The age of creed making is in full bloom! Today, every major denomination, including the Catholic and Orthodox believe their creeds are based directly upon the Bible. This of course cannot be true since they contradict both one another and the Bible itself! These do not address some Christological issues defined in the Nicene and other Christian Creeds. It thus says nothing explicitly about the divinity of either Jesus or of the Holy Spirit. This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians. Nor does it address many other theological questions that became objects of dispute centuries later.
Beware of the Rapture Doctrin
The origin of Rapture False doctrine: John Darby1830 AD
That doctrine is sucking people up faster than a sink-hole. Some say that the Rapture doctrine did not exist before John Darby invented it in 1830 AD. Before it" popped into John Darby's head" no one had ever heard of a secret rapture doctrine. Further reference shows that John Darby only popularized the doctrine
1. Rapture doctrine is not a recent "new doctrine" in the history among the Church. Another doctrine which is somewhat recent is the invention of the sinner's prayer for salvation by Billy Sunday in 1930, which was made popular by Billy Graham in1935.
2. References shows that John Nelson Darby’s popularization of the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine around 1830 AD is overshadowed. There can be no millennium after He comes. The doctrine of the millennium is, therefore excluded from the Bible, and is a mere tradition having its origin in Cerinthus, the most noted heretic of the first century.
But what about the thousand years in Revelation? Let us examine it carefully. In the first place we observe that it is not a reign of men in the body, but of “the souls of them who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.”
We further see, that they had not during their life upon the earth “worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark” upon them; hence we conclude that they lived in the early part of the Christian era, before the beast made his appearance..
In another chapter the Revelator sees these same souls under the altar, and heard them cry “with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth?… And it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants, also, and their brethren, that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled.”* These souls were resting, hence we understand that this vision also applies to their thousand-years’ reign with Christ. We also see in the above that the thousand years lies between periods of martyrdom; and that those who reigned were the victims of the first, awaiting the death of those of the second.
But are those thousand years past, or are they yet to come? Let us turn again to the twentieth chapter and make a further investigation of this subject. We find the devil was chained during that period (Revelation 20:3).Of course none would take this to be a literal chaining, for a spiritual being could not be thus confined. In what sense was he chained? By reading a little further, we find his chaining was a deprivation of the privilege of deceiving the nations (Revelation 20:3).
We observe, also, that at the expiration of the thousand years, the devil is loosed for a little season; during which he gathers the forces of Gog and Magog together to battle against the saints, and is defeated by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:7-9).
The fire from heaven signifies the coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians2:8); hence the devil is loosed from his thousand yearsconfinement, a little season before the second coming of Christ. The fact that the Gog and Magog*** forces are already uniting proves that the thousand years are past.3 But can we find anything in this chapter pointing to the commencement of the thousand years? Let us see. We have seen that it was the souls of the martyrs of the early days of the Christian era who reigned. Hence we would suppose that the thousand year period begun soon after their martyrdom. This must be the case, for we have seen that they are already in the past.
We have now laid the foundation, and will proceed to show the exact interpretation. The thousand years were 1530. During that period there were very few Christians upon the earth, hence the devil was deprived of the privilege of deceiving them, and in this sense was chained.
The reformation at the close of the thousand years brought forth a host of redeemed people, thus restoring to the devil the opportunity of doing what he could at deceiving them. In this sense he was loosed. The awful persecution inflicted upon the church in apostolic times was, during those thousand years, greatly abated: but it was poured forth afresh, and with greater ferocity, at the outburst of the Reformation. Hence it is seen that the thousand years as we have located them above, were in fulfillment to prophecy, an intervening respite from persecution.
Other evidence of this wild doctrine before1830 is Morgan Edwards who wrote a short essay as a college paper for Bristol Baptist College in Bristol England in 1744 where he confused the second coming with the first resurrection of Revelation 20 and described a" pre-tribulation" rapture. However Edwards ideas, which he admitted were brand new and never before taught, had no influence in the modern population of the false doctrine. That prize to goes to Darby.
3. Prior to 1830, no church taught it in their creed, catechism or statement of faith.
4. Darby has had a profound impact on religion today, since Darby's "secret rapture" false doctrine has infected most conservative, evangelical churches. While the official creeds and statements of faith of many churches either reject or are silent about Rapture, neither do they openly condemn this doctrine of a demon from the pulpit.
5. While not all dispensationalists believe in the Rapture. All those who teach the Rapture also believe in pre millennialism. Both groups use Israel's modern statehood status of 1948 to be a beginning of a countdown to the end.
6. All pre millennialists, rapturists and dispensationalists alive today believe the Bible reveals the general era of when Christ will return. The date setters of the 1800's (Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses) based their predictions upon speculative arrangements of numbers and chronologies in the Bible. Today's date setters without exception wrongly believe that Israel gaining state hood in 1948 fulfilled Bible prophecy and that Christ would return within one generation.
7. There are two kinds of pre millennialists: Those "Date setters" and "Date Teasers"."Date setters", set specific dates which are in fact a count down clock to the extinction of their own ministries. (William Miller, Charles Russell, Ronald Weinland, Harold Camping, etc.) "Date teasers", share the same rhetoric of urgency that the "end is very soon", but refuse to lock into a specific date. (Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, Pentecostals, Baptists, Grant Jefferies, Christadelphians.)
8. Most of the TV preachers who promote rapture and/or "date set" all wrongly believe they are a prophet of God with special illumination. Pentecostals believe they are inspired directly from the Holy Spirit as modern day prophets. Baptists believe they are illuminated with guidance from the Holy Spirit through the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible grace.
9. Christians reject all these false notions of God leading man astray into error and rely upon the pages of the Bible alone as a sole source of conduct and doctrine. If an individual is honest the Holy Spirit will lead that one to refute false millennium.
The following books ( companion articles to the above) can be downloaded at:
The Second Coming of Christ pdf.
Unraveling Revelation By A. Q. Bridwell
Also read Will there be a Millennial Reign? On the Bible Page
BEWARE OF THE RAPTURE DOCTRIN,THE ERROR OF CREEDS AND DIVISIONS OF MEN