Is Christendom Truly Christ’s Domain?
FOR a long time now, especially since about the year 800 C.E., Christendom has been a dominating influence in world affairs. The word “Christendom” is a compound word meaning “Christ’s domain” or “Christ’s jurisdiction.” Christendom has claimed this and has sent out missionaries to pagan lands in an effort to convert all the earth to become the territory of Christendom. Their missionaries have had a part, knowingly or unknowingly, in advancing the political control as well as the commercial control of Christendom in many of these countries. In doing so have they extended the domain of Christ? If Christendom is truly Christ’s domain, then it is an extension of the Christianity that Christ preached and is founded upon the doctrines and principles taught by Jesus and his apostles. Let us see whether it is.
Our consideration of the question will be first as to Christendom’s foundation doctrine, then as to its foundation from a historical viewpoint, as we consider a brief outline of how it grew to be such a mighty influence in world affairs. We will thereby have the testimony of two reliable witnesses, the Bible and history.
At the outset we will state that both of these witnesses will lead us to the same conclusion, namely, that Christendom is not and never has been Christ’s domain. By stating a conclusion at this point it will assist the reader to see more easily and readily why the various facts of history are presented and how they so thoroughly prove Christendom to be, not Christ’s domain, but, rather, Christianity’s worst enemy and a part of the great worldwide Babylonish religious empire. First, its basic doctrines are from Babylon, not Christ; and second, its political maneuvering and meddling are diametrically opposed to Christ, who said: “My kingdom is no part of this world,” and, of his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 18:36; 17:16.
BABYLONISH DOCTRINAL FOUNDATION
The Bible is not Babylonish and, therefore, does not contain the word “trinity.” This doctrine was one of the outstanding features of Babylon’s religion, which had triads of gods and demons. However, in the latter half of the second century, religious writers who claimed to be Christians began to introduce the word into their writings. This provoked religious controversy that finally resulted in interference by the Roman Empire itself. Since it is considered so important a doctrine in Christendom, we quote The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 15:
Trinity, THE BLESSED. . . . I. THE DOGMA OF THE TRINITY.—The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion—the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.” . . .
In scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word τριας (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180. He speaks of “the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom” (“Ad Autolycum”, II, 15, P.G., VI, 1078). The term may, of course, have been in use before his time. Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian (“De pudicitia”, c. xxi, P. G., II, 1026). In the next century the word is in general use.—Page 47.
Came the fourth century and the rise of Constantine the Great. After he defeated his last remaining opponent, Constantine was declared by the Roman Senate to be chief Augustus and Pontifex Maximus, on October 28, 312 C.E. It is said that during his campaign against his opponent Maxentius a flaming cross appeared in the heavens under the sun, and bearing the words In hoc signo vinces, meaning “By this sign you will conquer.” (The cross, we must remember, was the symbol of the sun-god, Sol.) Note the rise of Christendom on the Babylonish foundation of false doctrines and political intrigue after this time.
January 13, 313 C.E. Constantine as pagan Pontifex Maximus publishes his famous edict of toleration in favor of the professed Christians and they are made eligible to public office.
321 C.E. Sunday Dies Solis, the day of the sun-god, Sol, whose symbol is the cross, is made a day exempt from being judicial and its observance made a legal duty.
325 C.E. Constantine becomes head of the eastern and western sections of the Roman Empire. He calls a religious council for settling the controversy over the Greek characters or “trinity,” which threatens the unity of his empire. As pagan Pontifex Maximus, not yet baptized as a Christian, Constantine presides over the council and only about one-third, or 318, of the Christian episcopoi or overseers throughout the empire meet in Nicaea, near Nicomedia. Counting attendants of the bishops, between 1,500 and 2,000 men attend. We herewith quote from the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pages 477, 478:a
“Those who upheld the trinity were championed by the young archdeacon Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt. Those who opposed it and who showed from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was less than God his Father were championed by Arius a presbyter. For about two months the two sides wrangled. Arius maintained that ‘the Son of God was a creature, made from nothing; that there was a time when he had no existence; that he was capable of his own free will of right and wrong,’ and that, ‘were he in the truest sense a son, he must have come after the Father, therefore the time obviously was when he was not, and hence he was a finite being.’b When Arius rose to speak, a certain Nicholas of Myra hit him in the face. Afterward, as Arius talked on, many stuck their fingers in their ears and ran out as if horrified by the old man’s ‘heresies.’
“Finally Pontifex Maximus Constantine made his decision and came out in favor of the trinitarian teaching of Athanasius. So the Nicene Creed on the ‘trinity’ was issued and enforced. Later, for resisting this, Arius was banished to Illyria by Constantine’s order, but was recalled from there five years later. Besides publishing a number of canons the Council of Nicaea decreed on what Sunday (Dies Solis) of the year Easter should be regularly held.”
337 C.E. Constantine falls sick. He is baptized, and dies, in Nicomedia. After his death the Roman Senate (still pagan) places him among the gods. The eastern religious congregations reckon him among the saints. The Greek, Coptic and Russian churches celebrate the festival of Saint Constantine on May 21. Constantine had succeeded during his lifetime in bringing about a fusion of pagan religion and Christianity, making apostate Christianity truly Babylonish. Historians recount the effects of this:
“Whatever may have been the true character of Constantine’s conversion to the Christian faith, its consequences were of vast importance both to the empire and to the Church of Christ. It opened the way for the unobstructed propagation of the Gospel to a wider extent than at any former period of its history. All impediments to an open profession of Christianity were removed, and it became the established religion of the empire. Numerous, however, in various points of view, as were the advantages accruing to it from this change, it soon began to suffer from being brought into close contact with the fostering influence of secular power. The simplicity of the Gospel was corrupted; pompous rites and ceremonies were introduced; worldly honours and emoluments were conferred on the teachers of Christianity, and the kingdom of Christ in a good measure converted into a kingdom of this world.”—Theological Dictionary, by Henderson and Buck. See also M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume 2, page 488a; and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, pages 454ff.
By adopting terms from the Bible, such as the Greek words epískopos, referring merely to an “overseer” of a congregation, and diákonos, meaning a “servant,” and by using them as high-sounding titles, such as “bishop” and “deacon” used in English today, the clergy of apostate Christianity elevated themselves. Then by watering down the truth they made it more pleasing, appealing and unobjectionable to the pagan mind, to attract more people and thereby attain greater political power. As a consequence, Christendom grew more and more Babylonized and degraded as history went along. The reader will discern the Babylonish foundation of Christendom in the unembarrassed admission by John Henry Newman, who was made a cardinal by Pope Leo III in 1879, in his book entitled “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” published in 1878:
Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the very instruments and appendages of demon worship to an evangelical use, and feeling also that these usages had originally come from primitive revelations and from the instinct of nature, though they had been corrupted; and that they must invent what they needed, if they did not use what they found; and that they were moreover possessed of the very archetypes, of which paganism attempted the shadows; the rulers of the Church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to adopt, to imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of the educated class.
The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.—Pages 355, 371, 373, edition of 1881.
POLITICAL MEDDLING BRINGS DIVISIONS IN CHRISTENDOM
Christendom has always had the idea that she had a right to rule over others and that those ruling in her lands were kings or rulers by divine right. An idea of this kind cropped up in the Christian congregation at Corinth in the days of the apostle Paul, but he quickly set them straight on the matter by a very sharp rebuke. With strong sarcasm he said: “You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings.” (1 Cor. 4:8) Christendom has completely ignored these words of the apostle Paul, and her history is one long record of compromise for popularity and political influence and power, resulting in bitter, irreparable divisions.
378 C.E. Gratian, who began ruling in the western part of the Roman Empire in 375, at the death of Valens, emperor of the eastern part, makes General Theodosius emperor of the eastern part of the empire. Later Gratian prohibits pagan worship at Rome and refuses to wear the insignia of Pontifex Maximus. Damasus, “Christian” bishop of Rome, picks up the title with its pagan connections and obligations. The popes of Rome bear the title to this day.
381 C.E. The ecumenical Council of Constantinople (the eastern religious organization) is called because the “trinity” controversy continues to be carried on warmly. The Council rounds out the trinitarian Creed of Nicaea more fully. Nectarius is nominated as the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Council declares the bishop of Constantinople next in rank to the bishop of Rome.
395 C.E. Theodosius (who had become sole ruler of the entire empire) dies; his empire is divided. Bishops of East and West become divided in political loyalties, which, as from Christendom’s start, are more important to her than Christ and the unity of the Church, marking her as unchristian.—1 Cor. 1:10-13.
440 C.E. Leo I becomes pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He expresses that church’s political aspirations when he declares: “I will revive government once more upon this earth, not by bringing back the Caesars, but by declaring a new theocracy, by making myself the vicegerent of Christ, by virtue of the promise made to Peter, whose successor I am, in order to restore law, punish crime, head off heresy, encourage genius, conserve peace, heal dissensions, protect learning; appealing to love but ruling by fear. Who but the Church can do this? A theocracy will create a new civilization. Not a diadem, but a tiara will I wear, a symbol of universal sovereignty, before which barbarism shall flee away, and happiness be restored once more.”—John Lord, Beacon Lights of History, Vol. III, pages 244, 245.
476 C.E. The division between the Eastern and Western churches is widened as Pope Felix III of Rome excommunicates the Patriarch of Constantinople.
553 C.E. The third general council of Constantinople is presided over by the Patriarch of Constantinople, despite the protest of the bishop of Rome.
726 C.E. Emperor Leo III of Constantinople prohibits image worship, orders images destroyed. Pope Gregory II, of the western branch of the church at Rome, therefore excommunicates the Eastern emperor, who belongs to the Eastern Church, leading to the separation of the Eastern (Greek) Church from the Western (Latin) Church.
800 C.E. The Roman Church interferes in politics to the extent of exalting itself over rulers. Irene rules as empress of Constantinople. But the pope of Rome appoints Charles (Charlemagne) king of the Franks. From this year dates the establishment of the “Holy Roman Empire,” which survives until the year 1806. Says The Catholic Encyclopedia, edition of 1929, Volume 3, page 615:
“Two days later (Christmas Day, 800) took place the principal event in the life of Charles. During the Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Pope, as the king knelt in prayer before the high altar beneath which lay the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope approached him, placed upon his head the imperial crown, did him formal reverence after the ancient manner, saluted him as Emperor and Augustus and anointed him, while the Romans present burst out with the acclamation, thrice repeated: ‘To Carolus Augustus crowned by God, mighty and pacific emperor, be life and victory.’” (On page 774 the Encyclopedia speaks of this as “his coronation as the successor of Constantine.”)
988 C.E. Vladimir the Great is baptized into the Eastern Church. He orders the people to throw their images into the Dnieper River though they wept at doing so, and forces them to be baptized as Christians. Says The Encyclopedia Americana:
“Russian paganism did not vanish when the Christian gospel began to be preached. It survived in the popular language, sayings, traditions, domestic life and even religious beliefs. As late as the 18th century, serpents were adored in some remote villages. Eugenius Golubinsky, the greatest historian of the Russian Church, declares that Russia was baptized in the ninth century, but not Christianized.”
1054 C.E. The Greek patriarch Michael Cerularius is excommunicated by legates of Pope Leo IX, after the effort to fix upon the Eastern churches the yoke of subjection to the Roman pope as being the sovereign with divine right in the Catholic Church. Historians claim that this separation was one of the causes that contributed to the Roman Catholic Crusades that resulted in such horrible destruction and bloodshed for Mohammedans, Jews and Catholics.
1453 C.E. Mohammedans under Mahomet II capture Constantinople. The Patriarch of Constantinople is permitted to remain and function. It affects Russia religiously. Says The Encyclopedia Americana, edition of 1929, Volume 24, page 38b:
“The idea of the establishment of a Russian patriarchate was a natural consequence of the downfall of the Byzantine Empire and of the growth of Muscovite Russia. Moscow was hailed as the Third Rome.”
1587 C.E. An independent Russian Church is fully established. According to M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia: “In that year, the patriarch Jeremiah of Constantinople, while visiting Russia to obtain support, consented to turn the metropolitan of Moscow into a patriarch in the person of Job, the patriarch of Russia thus taking, in the opinion of the Eastern bishops, the place of the schismatic patriarch of Rome.” (Note that the pope of Rome is called “schismatic.”)
1696 C.E. Peter the Great becomes sole emperor of Russia. He abolishes the patriarchate and substitutes a permanent synod, consisting of prelates presided over by the emperor or his secretary.
1721 C.E. The Holy Governing Synod is instituted in the Russian Church. It becomes a national church, a department of the civil bureaucracy of the Russian Empire, a tool to support czarism.
1829 C.E. An independent kingdom of Greece is established.
1833 C.E. The regency of Greece declares the orthodox Oriental Church of Greece to be independent of every foreign ecclesiastical authority.
1850 C.E. The Patriarch of Constantinople recognizes the independent constitution of the Greek or Hellenic Church.
1869-1870 C.E. The First Vatican Council declares the Roman pope infallible.
November 1917 C.E. The Bolsheviki establish themselves in power by a second revolution and decree the disestablishment of the Russian Church as a State Church, and confiscate some church property and abuse and insult clergymen of all ranks and denominations. The proclamation is made that “Religion is the opium of the people.”
1918 C.E. Moscow becomes capital of the new Russia. In the years following, strong efforts to extirpate religion prove to be too costly. So the Soviet Government uses the Russian Church for its own political ends by making it inculcate patriotism in its church members. The Russian Orthodox Church yields to this arrangement.
1945 C.E. The Russian Orthodox Church Council is held in a suburb of Moscow. Metropolitan Benjamin, Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate for North America, says that Moscow might yet become the “Third Rome,” and would be the meeting place “for the entire church.” Official Soviet circles sympathize for such ideas, for they favor a Russian Orthodox Church imperialism in connection with which their political capital Moscow would become the most important ecclesiastical center of the world.
1962-1965 C.E. The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council is held, in four sessions. The Vatican, with divisive intentions, sends invitations, not through the Patriarch of Istanbul (Constantinople), but direct to the individual Eastern Church bodies. The Russian Orthodox Church sends delegates. As to the Vatican’s divisive tactics, Archbishop Iakovos, the Greek Orthodox primate in America, says, as reported by the New York Times, as of November 4, 1962, under the heading “Iakovos Scores Vatican Tactics—Asserts Council Invitations Slighted Orthodox Leader”:
“‘Only with the Church of Moscow did the Vatican succeed in this tactic.’ . . . The reasons that induced the Russian Church ‘to suddenly change its position and accept the invitation of Pope John XXIII are without doubt clearly of a political nature.’”
In the above-mentioned Council a sharp division on many vital topics of doctrine and practice existed in the ranks of the more than 2,000 cardinals and bishops, the conservatives being led by the Roman Curia, the central and most powerful administrative body of the Church. The liberals comprised the majority of the cardinals and bishops. In the course of the Council a decree was drafted on church unity. The document dealt only with the Eastern Orthodox Churches and ignored Protestantism. To quote the New York Times, a number of Council speakers on the decree pointed out that
the problem of union must be viewed in relation to the issues confronting a divided Christianity in the 20th century and not wholly in the light of theological tomes of past centuries. They clearly alluded to the rise of Communism, the twin threats of materialism and secularism, and the growth of non-Christian religions.—New York Times, as of December 1, 1962, under the heading “Prelates End Discussion on Unity with Orthodox.”
At the present time, in Latin America, the Catholic people are very disturbed over the fact that many of the images of the saints are being removed from their churches, the images of Mary and Christ on a cross remaining. Another change, that of now being allowed to eat meat on Friday, deeply concerns them. What about all the years they prayed to images and saints, or refrained from meat on Friday? they ask. Was the Church directing them in wrong worship, and were all these devotions of no avail before God?
The Britannica Book of the Year, 1965 page 706, reports further developments disturbing to many:
The continuing trend toward establishing a modus vivendi with Communist governments was illustrated in September when an agreement was signed in Budapest between the papacy and the Hungarian government. Rome agreed to allow priests to take an oath of loyalty and named six bishops.
[During the Second Vatican Council] . . . A draft declaration on religious liberty was blocked in spite of efforts by more than a thousand bishops, led by Cardinals Albert Meyer of Chicago, Joseph Ritter of St. Louis, and Paul Émile Léger of Montreal, to bring it to a vote.
Our examination of two truthful and authoritative witnesses, the Bible and history, exposes the foundations of Christendom. The proof is conclusive: They are not based on the principles of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who said: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” (John 18:36) With her doctrine of trinity, her use of images and her practice of burning heretics, her forced conversion of nations and her alliances with political governments, even non-Christian ones, Christendom reflects the spirit of Babylon and its god, Satan the Devil.
Now her course of political meddling and compromise is about to catch up with her. Her problems are getting increasingly critical. If Christendom were truly Christ’s domain, then his kingdom would be a failure. We may be thankful that Christians do not have to worry about Christendom’s crisis and its failure, but can busy themselves telling the people about the real kingdom of Christ, which now rules from heaven and is soon to extend its domain to rule the whole earth in peace and unity.
Space has permitted only a mention of the other major division of Christendom, namely, Protestantism, but in our next issue we shall consider questions that may have arisen in your mind: What about Protestantism, the section of Christendom that broke off in the sixteenth century? Did it build on new foundations? and, Did the Protestant Reformation really restore true worship?
a Published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York (1963).
b See M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume 7, page 45a. Also, The Encyclopedia Americana, edition of 1929, Volume 2, page 250a.