Early Varieties of Christianity?

Dr. Darrell Bock, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, addresses the question, “Weren’t there just varieties and alternatives of Christianity in the 1st century, with no real orthodoxy until the 4th century?”

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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4 Responses to Early Varieties of Christianity?

  1. falcon says:

    I love the scholarship here and the clearness of the presentation.
    I can anticipate what the Mormon posters will say however. What they will say is that there needs to be a prophet to set everything straight. Thus Joseph Smith was called on by God to do just that. The problems with this point of view are many. First of all the NT is very clear regarding the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Offices within the Church. Ephesians chapter four speaks to the offices while First Corinthians chapters 12-14 speak to the Gifts.
    There is no “Moses” type figure any where in the NT Church because Jesus has come and completes the revelation. Secondly, on the day of Pentecost, God gave His Gift to the Church which is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within believers and has never abandoned the believers in Jesus who form the Mystical Body of Christ; His Church or Bride.
    The problem with all of these false prophets that have emerged over the centuries is that they claim either a new revelation or a restored revelation. The revelation has already been given and that is Jesus the Christ. No manner of religious rituals or practices can supersede, add to or replace what Christ did for us on the Cross. This is the revelation. Jesus, God incarnate, was the propitiation or satisfaction for the sin of mankind. Through faith in Him, believers receive the gift of eternal life. Nothing can be added to this revelation.
    There was an orthodox set of beliefs within the early Church. As the heretics rose up, the Church was forced to define in specific language exactly, for example, what the fundamental belief was concerning the nature of Jesus.
    Only God can provide satisfaction for sin, namely Jesus .

  2. Mike R says:

    The claims of Mormon leadership to be the only true christians of the only true church today
    ( since 1830 ) are not unique , they join other prophets in these latter days making similar
    claims of authority . It’s interesting to note that Mormon leaders have correctly saw the
    importance of the New Testament record concerning Jesus’ church , so they try and prove
    that they are in fact that Body of believers by trying to read today’s Mormon church
    into the New Testament record in some significant areas . One of these is teaching
    that today’s church has the same church offices , same organization, same gospel etc as those
    believers did in the first century , the original church of Jesus . But since Satan overcame the
    early Body of believers , that Christianity sickened and died , that a complete apostasy from
    from the christian religion took place shortly after the death of Jesus’ original apostles , then
    this religion, this church , was restored in 1830 by God through the Mormon prophet Joseph
    Smith. That is the message of Mormonism. But the Christian faith was not completely
    overcome , from churches that Jesus’ apostles planted in their missionary travels grew
    Christians who were faithful in passing on sound doctrine –2Tim 1:3 ; 2:2 . We can thank God
    that the message of salvation preached by Jesus’ apostles is still changing lives today , and that
    the warning from apostles like Paul can be utilized to evaluate the teachings by those today
    who come claiming to have heard from God or angels with a message that starts with:
    ” the truth about God/salvation is once again available after 1800 years of darkness” ,
    then we can say Whoa!

  3. Andy Watson says:

    Sharon, thanks for posting this video clip of Dr. Bock addressing indirectly the LDS conspiracy claim of an apostasy because of divisions.

    Dr. Bock made this key point: “What they [the apostles and church leaders] were debating was an inconsistency in practice – not an inconsistency in theology.”

    That is such a crucial and important statement in light of Mormon claims. Theology wasn’t the issue. That statement by Dr. Bock would epitomize what is seen today among various churches in Christianity. Most of them are unified in theology, especially in the central teachings of the faith that define orthodoxy and sound doctrine (deity of Jesus; the Trinity; justification by faith alone because of grace alone through Christ alone, etc.). However, it’s those external practices that has caused divisions (frequency of taking Holy Commuion, baptismal modes and candidates, liturgy, etc.). Paul even encouraged these factions seeing them as healthy for the body of Christ – the church (1 Cor 11:18-19). Dr. Bock’s reference to “the right hand of fellowship” being given to Paul and Barnabas by Peter, James, and John is in Galatians 2:7-9.

  4. falcon says:

    All of the sects of Mormonism are driven by the false notion that a prophet is needed to clue people in as to what the Mormon god is thinking. This is, of course, because in the beginning of Mormonism the claim was made by Joseph Smith that basically everything was wrong and needed to be straightened out.
    This summer I stood in the middle of the replica of what was at the time of Brigham Young, a hastily built log structure where he and his two top honchos were “sustained” as the first presidency of the to be Utah sect of Mormonism.
    As far as I can tell, the Mormon god didn’t pick BY but he won a sort of political war with other men laying claim to the mantle of Joseph Smith. What we have in Mormonism aren’t differences in practice, although there are many, but fundamentally a difference in the most basic aspects of Mormon doctrine. Having a “prophet” who is speaking for God has added to the confusion in Mormonism.
    Given the stark differences between the Mormon sects it’s really difficult to understand what the big deal is about their claims to having a living prophet who speaks for God.
    We have a clear history of the Christian church. We know what the controversies were and how they were resolved. The Bishops of the early Church were charged with safe guarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Fundamental to the Gospel is the person and work of Jesus Christ. From the testimony of Peter in the NT acknowledging who Jesus is, to the writing of the apostle John in the first chapter of the Gospel (according to John), to the testimony of the apostle Paul and his conversion, it’s plain that the Christian faith is built on the cornerstone of Jesus .

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