A Brief History

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Reminder: The First Followers of Jesus Were Jewish

The first followers of Jesus were indeed Jewish. They went to the synagogue first and concluded from the Scriptures that the Messiah had come as promised in the Law and the Prophets. It was the norm to be involved first in Jewish culture and then to follow the Jewish Messiah. It was outside the norm for a gentile to follow Jesus.

The missiological hot-button of the day was "Can a gentile follow Jesus without first becoming Jewish?"

Acts 15 revealed that those who called for a pure Jewish community insisted that gentiles convert and become Jewish. The grafted-in community understood that wild olive branches (gentiles) can remain gentile-ish and Jewish believers can remain Jewish. The mystery of the church is that the body of Christ is made up of Jews and gentiles. When the number of gentiles in the church became greater than the number of Jews, faulty views of Scripture, prejudices, and anti-Semitic attitudes infiltrated the church.

Institutional Changes; Not Good

Institutional changes included:

  1. The rejection of the literal meaning of Scripture in its context

  2. The subjugation of Scripture to the authority of a gentile (anti-Jewish) Church hierarchy

  3. The determination that church doctrine and practice would be in opposition to the Jews.

  4. The establishment of compulsory conformity in practice

  5. The acceptance of the State and the sword as the means of maintaining purity in the church. (The cross was transformed from a means of victory over sin for the individual to a means of victory over sinners by the society)

  6. The acceptance of the sword of the State, instead of the Sword of the Spirit, the blood of the Lamb and the blood of believers, as the means of triumph in the world

  7. The acceptance of the State support of the Church in exchange for the Church support of the State (The Church surrenders its own prophetic message toward the State)

By the Fifth Century...

By the Fifth Century, any Jewish person seeking baptism and entrance into the church had to renounce everything Jewish. To wit:

I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and sacrifices of Lambs of the Hebrews, and all other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications, and propitiations, and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants and observances and synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce absolutely everything Jewish, every law rite, and custom...and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with the Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Cain and the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be anathema in the world and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils.

Excerpted from A Case for Romans 1:16...Again! by Steve Cohen