(The following is a continuation of a study of “Who are the daughters of the Harlot”)
Why would I call the Protestant denominations harlots? Aren’t they preaching the true gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone? Well they were, but even at the beginning they clung to false doctrines of Rome.
Under Luther, the Lutheran churches clung to infant baptism, a doctrine not taught in the bible. The Presbyterians and Anglicans are also guilty in this same respect. Luther also believed that Christ was somehow really present in the bread of the communion service, a form of transubstantiation. As I mentioned before, Christmas is the continuation of the ancient pagan feast of conspicuous consumption, Saturnalia, which just happened to be held on December 25th. Easter is named after the ancient pagan fertility goddess, Easter (a.k.a. Ishtar)!
We also see that from the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, many of these churches were closely involved with the governments of the nations, just like their “mother”. Many of these churches were happy to take the title of State Church, and to persecute other Christians who could not join them for conscience’ sake.
Some might point out to me that the Baptist churches did not do these things, and to a great extent they did not, but even the Baptists have their areas of worldly compromise. One of the Romish things that Baptists are famous for is their own version of popery! Rome has a hierarchy, with the pope at the top, the Cardinals under him, then Bishops, and finally priests, all of whom exercise authority over the common man.
Many Baptist pastors follow the same sort of top-down rule in their own churches! The pastor then becomes the local pope, who can dictate to the church exactly what they should do, what to believe, how to dress, and if they disagree they can leave.
Very often these men ignore the Scriptures that go against their self-imposed position in the church. These men, often teach that “since they have to answer to God, they don’t have to answer to the flock”. This idea goes against a number of Scriptures;
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:21 Many of these men would have us believe that the congregation must submit to them, but not the other way around, yet this verse says otherwise.
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5 “All” is a rather inclusive word, yet many of these men do not think the phrase “all of you” actually refers to themselves!
“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” I Corinthians 4:6 The Pastor is a member of the flock, and is subject to discipline just as any other member.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:42-44)
The word “minister” in this context means “servant”. Jesus was clearly teaching his followers that they ought not to pattern their ministry style after the gentile pagan temples.
“25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.” (Luke 22:25)
If a person is a servant, is he not supposed to listen to those he is working for? Didn’t Jesus take seriously the questions his disciples asked? The pastor is not in the place of Christ. The pastor is actually one of the flock himself, who is appointed an undershepherd.
Christ is infallible, but the pastor is not, and is subject to correction by the Word of God. If a man in the congregation, a sinner, has an issue because the pastor has said or done something unbiblical, the pastor is actually subject to biblical discipline! The pastor actually needs to answer to the flock. The above verses actually do apply!
Please don’t think I am only singling out Baptists on this issue. This is one issue where Baptists are particularly at fault, but they are not alone. Every one of the above mentioned denominations has a problem with the same issues, and we could add every other denomination, and independent church. This is an issue that goes to the heart of man’s sinful nature.
God designed Church governance with a series of checks and balances, in the form of the Presbytery (presbuteros in the Greek), which is a ruling body of Elders within the Church. This word is actually in the bible (1 Tim. 4:14), but is ignored by many pastors because they don’t want to have to answer to the flock. When reading the New Testament epistles one can see the working of the Presbytery, through the statements to the Elders.
When speaking to the church the word “Elders” is always in the plural, unless speaking of the qualifications of one who holds this office, or when speaking of an individual.
“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)
Notice that they did not “ordain AN elder in every church”, but Elders. Every church had a plurality of elders. Notice also that “Elder” was an ordained position, and did not refer to just any older person in the church. I have heard Baptist pastors say that elders simply means any older man in the congregation. This is a lie, as attested to by these Scriptures!
The Church in Jerusalem had more than one elder:
“And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4)
“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.” (Acts 15:6)
“Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch…” (Acts 15:22)
“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the eldersof the church.” (Acts 20:17) The Church in Miletus had multiple ordained elders.
“And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.” (Acts 21:18)
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (I Timothy 5:17) The Church was ruled by a plurality of Elders and never by one man.
“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:” (Titus 1:5) Elders held an ordained position, and there was only one church in most cities at the time. The term did not refer to those members of the congregation who were relatively older than the average. Again, note that there were multiple elders to be ordained.
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:” (James 5:14) These elders are not deacons, nor are they just any older men in the congregation, they are ordained elders, the same people the above passage speak of. James did not use the term “elder” because there was always a body of elders in every church. In most baptist churches today there is one man considered to be “the elder”… the pastor.
The system that the early church set up was based upon the Jewish system of Elders, and we see the use of the word in the early New Testament books often refers to the Jewish elders of the synagogue, or Temple. The majority in the early church had a Jewish background, and it is only logical that they would continue with what they were accustomed to. This was God’s design.
God Himself had set up the system originally, and it was designed to provide a system of checks and balances, as well as a way to share the burdens of ministry. It appears that as the Church became more and more gentile, the gentile system that Jesus had warned us about, in Mark 10:42-44 and Luke 22:25, became prevalent. While practiced in many churches, the one-man-rule system is not Judeo-Christian, but rather Greco-Roman, and ultimately has its roots in Babylon.
The term “Elder” does not refer to deacons, for we see in Acts 6:1-8 that the office of Elder was separated from the deacon in the early church. The elders were the spiritual leaders, and were to dedicate themselves to spiritual leadership, while the deacons were to take care of the temporal, or physical, needs of the congregation.
If an Elder, or Pastor, falls into sin, he can actually be removed by the other Elders, and publicly rebuked. We are reminded to take such a step with care and caution in 1 Timothy 5:19-20, nevertheless there are times when such a step is necessary. Baptist popes, however, become unbiblical dictators who are above church discipline in practice! This is not what Jesus intended!
I do not know why so many Churches follow this unbiblical practice. I think it starts when the body of believers is somewhat lazy, and wants to delegate responsibility to one man, but in the end, when they do this, it results in that one man holding far too much power, and it often goes to his head.
There are countless examples of this abuse of office in Church history, but a prominent example, one you should take note of, is found here. This pastor was involved in sexual sin for many years, and destroyed the marriage of one of his deacons, yet his behavior was excused, not only by member of his congregation, but by many independent Baptists all over North America! This man is still looked up to by pastors all over the world, yet the bible itself says of this sin:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…shall inherit the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 6:9-10
The man in question is none other than Jack Hyles of First Baptist, Hammond, Indiana. His sin with his secretary was public knowledge long before his death, yet the church did nothing about it!
Had this man been removed from his office, and disciplined, articles like this would not have had to be written! As it is, men who act this way give the Lord a bad name! So many Protestants point to the long history of sexual sin in the Catholic Church, yet we so often ignore this very same sin in our own camp!
Presbyterians, and Plymouth Brethren churches, actually have a more biblical form of Church governance than most Baptist churches. Unfortunately these churches also have their own areas of compromise with Rome, and it must also be noted that having a biblical method of Church governance is not a guarantee of success against apostasy. All Church leaders are still sinners, and any body made up of sinners will always have problems.
Yes indeed, if the Roman Catholic Church is the Harlot, then the churches who came out of her, the Protestants, are her daughters!