The Rise of Heresy

The Scriptures feed the Church. It has always been that way, with the Jews relying on their Tanakh just as the Christians came to lean on their Bible. The Church thus has an critical link to the Scriptures, and history demonstrates that the development of one impacts the other. Change was coming though, and as believers drifted from the Scriptures, so too did the Church as a whole.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” – Colossians 2:8 –

As we move forward, I must say here and now that what I write in the following pages may, to some, be considered offensive or inflammatory. Dear friend, understand that my intention is not to provoke or condemn the peoples and beliefs noted, but rather my words are meant only to enlighten, to reveal the often overlooked histories that are crucial to understanding the scope of the story before us.

With the spread of the New Testament, and eventually the Bible as a whole, many different views and Scriptural interpretations began to appear. Even in the earliest days of the Church, many of the founding fathers possessed their own thoughts of what the Church was and how it was to carry on. Simon Peter, a disciple of Jesus himself, considered the Church to be a reformation of the Jewish religion, and thus maintained many of the old Jewish practices and laws. The apostle Paul, on the other hand, geared his ministry (Pauline Christianity) more in favor of the gentiles, making believers amongst tribes and nations that would otherwise have been ignored.

Somewhat different than the others, the Gnostic Christians held that they possessed knowledge of the true nature of Jesus, believing that physical existence is evil, and that Christ was not “God in the flesh,” but rather a spirit, an incorporeal being who only appeared physical. An early heresy, the Gnostics were based in Alexandria, Egypt, and by as early as 55 AD, they were known to have begun twisting the Scriptures to fit their interpretations, infusing the Word of God with Greek philosophies and other corruptions.

To this end, the theologian Irenaeus said of the Gnostics in 156 AD, “Wherefore they and their followers have betaken themselves to mutilating the Scriptures which they themselves have shortened.” Their doctrines came to be more widely accepted than one would first anticipate, and ultimately those influenced by Gnosticism would come to make trouble for the true believers in the Scriptures.

While Jewish, Pauline, and Gnostic Christianity were the predominant denominations of the first century, they were by no means the only ones, and many lesser variations of the faith continued to appear through the years. By 70 AD though, with the conquest of Jerusalem, Pauline and Gnostic Christianity were considered the dominant faiths after the Christian Jews dispersed.

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