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Posts Tagged ‘cessationism’

Will The Holy Spirit Be Taken From The Earth During The Great Tribulation?

Posted by Job on May 2, 2009

Many premillennial dispensational pastors teach that during the time of the great tribulation, the Holy Spirit leaves earth along with the church. Now consider this. As God is a spirit (John 4:24), the Holy Spirit is the presence of God. For God’s presence to be removed from the earth during the great tribulation or at any other times causes real problems, because God sustains and directs creation, which cannot operate without God’s presence and involvement. (The idea that God accomplished creation and left it to itself without His needing to operate, sustain, or otherwise be involved in it is theological liberalism at best and deism at worst.)

But apart from the larger question of precisely how creation will be sustained and operated for seven long years with God’s presence absent from it, there is the issue of salvation. Can anyone name a premillennial dispensationalist who denies that people will be saved during the tribulation? That would be very difficult, because Revelation does make reference to Christians that will be martyred after the time that according to this doctrine the church will have been raptured, and this is so for both the pre-tribulation and mid-tribulation rapture believers. First off, for this to even happen will mean that Jesus Christ’s promise concerning the Holy Spirit of John 14:16-18, that He will not leave us comfortless (meaning that the presence of God will never leave the church) would be broken. So … if John 14:16-18 can be violated, even for a time, then what secures John 3:16 and the other promises of God to the church? 

But again, back to salvation. The Bible explicitly teaches that the Holy Spirit is what accomplishes salvation. The Holy Spirit not only draws the sinner and convicts the sinner of unrighteousness, but the Holy Spirit actually accomplishes rebirth. This must be the case, for salvation is quite literally a miracle, and all miracles are the work of the Holy Spirit. No miracles cannot occur without the presence, moving and working of God. But if the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, how can salvation occur? Who will draw sinners? Who will convict sinners of unrighteousness? Most important: who will perform the miraculous work of regeneration, of new birth? 

Recall what Jesus Christ told Nicodemus in John 3:5-8, which is that salvation, new birth, is impossible unless someone is born again, and born again can only occur by water and spirit, which is the Holy Spirit. But to repeat, if the Holy Spirit has been taken from the earth, how can the rebirth, the salvation that can only occur by the Holy Spirit occur?

There is only one explanation. It is the doctrine that salvation is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but rather of human decision, of free will. Now claiming that it is totally or completely free will is Pelagianism, or shall we say hyperArminianism. The mainstream orthodox free will doctrine is that the work of the Holy Spirit empowers a free will decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ. An extension of this is foreknowledge, which states that God from His timeless perspective knows in advance who will accept and reject Him, so He elects those who will – or in truth have already – elected Him, and places them in human history in situations where they will hear the gospel. (In other words, God loves us because we first loved Him.)

Now the free will doctrine which states that the job of the Holy Spirit is to empower human decision is necessary to reconcile decision soteriology with what the Bible actually says. However, we see that this really is merely a cover, an exterior. At the heart of this doctrine is that salvation is completely the work of human decision, and that the Holy Spirit is not necessary at all. That is why it is so easy for the very same free will Christians to declare that salvation is made possible by the Holy Spirit’s overcoming the effects of the fall long enough to empower man to make a free will choice to immediately turn around and assert that during the tribulation, the Holy Spirit is gone and yet people will still be saved!

This makes the work of the Holy Spirit to draw, convict, and actually accomplish new birth a mere technicality to free will salvation, an accessory if you will, that while very useful can be discarded if need be, such as during a crisis. And during the great crisis for humanity and creation that is the great tribulation, the presence of the Holy Spirit for those being saved is no more necessary than is the presence of a second lung or kidney. It is nice to have, but ultimately you can get along without it. After all, you still have the other lung or kidney, right? Well, it appears that with free will doctrine, one lung or kidney is God (the Holy Spirit) and the other lung or kidney is human initiative, human decision, human righteousness and self – worth, human works. It is interesting that in a crisis, God is the one which is declared to be superfluous, not truly necessary for life, and therefore sacrificed, while our human freedom, what is truly valued and important above all else, are the horns of the altar to which we hold fast to (see 1 Kings 2:27-34). Perhaps, then, life as a slave or in an authoritarian culture (please recall that Christianity was birthed in the authoritarian, fascist Roman Empire which had no respect for individual rights or freedoms except for that of a privileged few, and most early converts to the religion were noncitizens and slaves!) is better suited to creating a mindset conducive to Christianity than previously thought. After all, the Declaration of Independence was written by a deist, not a Christ.

According to all Biblical evidence including the words of Jesus Christ Himself, the idea that salvation can occur without the Holy Spirit is severe error, a rejection of a truth plainly taught in scripture, and also attributing the work of the Holy Spirit (salvation) to another, giving another credit for what God does. (However, it is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin, which Jesus Christ states is attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Giving the glory for the work of the Holy Spirit to man is a sin, but quite different than attributing salvation to being the work of Beelzebub.) So is the idea that the church will be left without its Comforter, the Holy Spirit. So, what does that mean for this doctrine? 

I suppose that the rapture doctrine itself can be salvaged for those who choose to adhere to it. However, one simply cannot claim that there will be no Christians afterwards, as the Bible clearly contradicts it … saints will be martyred during the tribulation according to Revelation and the Olivet discourses.  One also cannot claim that the “tribulation church” or the “tribulation saints” will be there without the Holy Spirit, as Jesus Christ said that such a thing would never happen. And one cannot claim that the “tribulation saints” will consist of a single person born again while the Holy Spirit is removed. 

So, the only way to salvage the rapture doctrine is to abandon the claim that the Holy Spirit will be taken from the Earth during the great tribulation, or at any other time that the church will be on the earth or that people will be added to the church. While this is certainly possible, the question must be asked  A) where this “the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth during the tribulation” doctrine came from and B) why it was embraced. Why did not these people, these great pastors, theologians, and eminent Bible scholars, simply ask: without the Holy Spirit how can anyone be saved and “how can any Christian endure daily life, let alone tribulation and martyrdom, without the ministry of the Comforter?”

Now the doctrines of God are supposed to be the head of all doctrines of Christianity and the focus of our faith. We are supposed to look at every doctrine and ask “How is God working in this? How does this glorify God? How does this accomplish God’s purposes? Where is God in this story”? That this “the Holy Spirit will be removed from the tribulation church” doctrine has been able to gain such unqualified support in huge swaths of evangelical Christianity shows that this is not the case. In it, God and His workings are not necessary to bring about conversion, to seal believers, to preserve them in the faith. Man is able to accomplish these things, to save himself, minister to himself, and persevere in the faith himself, without God’s help. Oh what a great, glorious, marvelous, fantastic, mighty to contemplate and behold, inherently virtuous thing this man must be! But if this was the case, then why did Adam, who knew not original sin, fall?

Instead, this shows that for so many premillennial dispensational Christians, the head of their doctrines are not the doctrines of God, but rather the doctrine of the rapture and the doctrine of human decision. Now the Gospel of John depicts the sin sacrifice of God’s own Word on the cross as the climaxing event of human history, the ultimate act of revelation and self – disclosure to creation. Premillennial dispensationalism, on the other hand, places the rapture of the church as the climax of human history, and the cross as merely being an event that leads to it. Why? Because the cross was about God, Jesus Christ. The rapture, meanwhile, us about the church. The cross is about people. Saved people, yes, but still people. The rapture is about US.

Which means, of course, that Christianity basically becomes about the desire to be raptured. Being raptured becomes our hope, our motivation, the main priority. And that explains so many of the strange actions in these last days. For example: our relationship with the Jews and Israel. The ingathering of Jews to Israel and the rebuilding of the temple is the main priority because of its importance to the rapture. So, Christians are required to deny the fact that Jesus Christ replaced Israel and fulfilled Israel’s mission in salvation and world events within Himself. Even further, Christians are required to pretend that modern Judaism is just another godless religion, no different from Islam, and pretend that there is any precious difference between a government and society  based around modern Judaism – a theocracy – and a similar Hindu or Muslim nation like India or Turkey. It has even reached the point where leading pastors can openly advocate dual covenant theology, that there a superior path to salvation for Christians and an inferior, harder, but still attainable and valid path of salvation for Jews, without causing a ripple of controversy. And it has reached the point where investing an incredible amount of resources to lending political and financial support to a theocracy who denies Christ and works to continue and further the denial of Christ by as many people as possible has taken priority over actually doing what Jesus Christ told us to do, which was the Great Commission. Again, where not one scripture can be honestly interpreted in a way that would command Christians to support the modern political state of Israel, the primary thing that Jesus Christ told us to do, evangelize, gets neglected. Why? Because evangelizing the world – the one thing that Jesus Christ actually said would bring about His return – is not as important as ingathering and protecting Jews in Israel, because obeying the commands of Jesus Christ has to take a backseat to getting raptured as soon as possible. So, given the choice between giving money to Israeli causes knowing full well that the Israeli charities forbid evangelizing Jews and also helping to rebuild the temple takes priority over obeying the commands of Jesus Christ by, say, making a concerted effort to evangelize the Palestinians. Why? Because though obeying God by evangelizing the Palestinians is nice and all, I would rather support the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (which adamantly opposes converting Jews to Christianity) and help breed heifers for the new temple (never mind that Hebrews stated that burnt offerings went away with Jesus Christ). Why? Because while obeying God is a good thing and all, supporting anti-missionary organizations and building a temple that rejects the work of Jesus Christ helps me by speeding up the rapture and getting me out of here faster, and pursuing my own interests takes priority over the commandments of God!

So, it is apparent: doctrines of man, and particularly of man’s inherent righteousness and ability to do good works apart from God, including pursue his own interests, and of the rapture,  which provides a doctrinal construct to pursue these things, are at the head of this particular strand of premillennial dispensationalism, and not the doctrines of God. So the question is: does this go as far as being another gospel? Is it another gospel?

This is a question that we must ask Reformed pastors who believe in the rapture as do Albert Pendarvis and John MacArthur. Such people state that salvation and perseverance of the saints are impossible without the Holy Spirit, that free will, human initiative, is impossible in these matters. If that is the case now, how can it be the case after the rapture? Reformed evangelical pastors emphasize grace. But how can the grace of God by which salvation and perseverance is only possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit no longer be necessary after the rapture? Reformed evangelicals also assert sola scriptura. Well, can any sola scriptura Reformed evangelical who believes that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth and the tribulation church following the rapture show where it states or even implies in scripture where it is so? I dare say that the scriptures that Reformed evangelicals use to support cessationism, a doctrine about which I am very doubtful, make a much stronger case. 

Now my position is that the position that the church will be raptured, whether pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation (before the final bowl judgments) by itself is not. However, the position that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth during the great tribulation is another gospel, because it teaches that man can save himself and can persevere in the faith by himself without needing God to perform – or so much as even aid – either. That is a strong delusion, and from such a false gospel, I urgently beg, entreat, plead, and in the Name of Jesus Christ pray that you will turn away.


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Is The Gift Of Tongues Available To The Church Today?

Posted by Job on March 1, 2009

This pastor relies on 1 Corinthians 13:8 to make his case, but in doing so he leaves out the vital information in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10! So, I am still awaiting a convincing case for cessationism using the Bible in context to be made. However, this pastor does make a credible – and formidable – point on the issue that “glossolia” means “language” and “dialect” as opposed to “ecstatic utterance unintelligble in any language.” The private prayer language and other ecstatic utterance advocates need other Bible texts to justify the practice, Romans 8:26 perhaps.

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Is Cessationism Biblical?

Posted by Job on September 20, 2008

Many suggest that the sign gifts (tongues, prophecies, interpretations, gifts of healings and miracles) were for the apostolic era for the purposes of founding the church, and that after the time of the apostles past, the church was on solid ground, and particularly when the canon was completed, there was no longer such a need for these gifts. This is a rough, simplistic statement of the doctrine of cessationism. (You can read more details about this doctrine here.)

The Bible verses used to support this view are Ephesians 2:20, Hebrews 2:3-4, and 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. I suppose that I am going to have to shelve my beloved King James Version and use a more modern translation, the NASB, on this issue.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10

8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of (A)prophecy, they will be done away; if there are(B)tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

 9For we (C)know in part and we prophesy in part;

 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

Ephesians 2:19-22

19So then you are no longer (A)strangers and aliens, but you are (B)fellow citizens with the saints, and are of (C)God’s household,

 20having been (D)built on (E)the foundation of (F)the apostles and prophets, (G)Christ Jesus Himself being the (H)corner stone,

 21(I)in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into (J)a holy temple in the Lord,

 22in whom you also are being (K)built together into a (L)dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Hebrews 2:1-4

1For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that (A)we do not drift away from it. 2For if the word (B)spoken through (C)angels proved unalterable, and (D)every transgression and disobedience received a just (E)penalty,

 3(F)how will we escape if we neglect so great a (G)salvation? After it was at the first (H)spoken through the Lord, it was (I)confirmed to us by those who heard,

 4God also testifying with them, both by (J)signs and wonders and by (K)various miracles and by(L)gifts of the Holy Spirit (M)according to His own will.

I find the case for cessationism based on these scriptures to be inconclusive at best to spurious at worst. The weakest is Hebrews 2:1-4. First, the context, the intended meaning of the passage, has nothing to do with the duration of sign gifts. Instead, it was one of the famous warning passages to Hebrew Christians not to use persecution as an excuse to abandon the faith and return to Judaism under the false belief that as Jews the law of Moses offered them a path to heaven. That was the point of mentioning the signs and wonders showed by Jesus Christ to the apostles. The writer of Hebrews is stating that the law of Moses was mediated to mankind by angels, but the new covenant was given by God the Son Himself, with the signs and wonders to the apostles showing evidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and God in the flesh. If the signs and wonders had the purpose of demonstrating to the apostles the identity and mission of Jesus of Nazareth, then what was the purpose of those gifts being present in people who never saw the long resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ in places where the church had long been established? 

Ephesians 2:19-22 does make a decent case for the idea that apostles and prophets no longer exist … they were the foundation that the church was built upon with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. The cornerstone main stone of the foundation, or rather the stone that supports the other foundation stones. Roman Catholics who claim that the church was built on Peter ignore that Peter’s stone lies on Jesus Christ’s stone, the one that Daniel prophesied would fill the whole earth, and that also scripture does not record Peter’s stone being any more important than any of the other apostles … as a matter of fact when Revelation speaks of the pearled gates of heaven having the names of the apostles on them, no special mention is given to Peter’s gate, so their doctrine of Peter admitting people into heaven that you see represented in popular culture so often actually opposes scripture. In any case, my opinion is that the prophets referred to in that passage actually refers to the Old Testament prophets (of which John the Baptist was the last and greatest) not the New Testament prophets. At the very least, the Old Testament prophets and the apostolic prophets are both included. Now, there were of course other apostles than the 12 (with Matthias replacing Judas) such as Paul – who called himself the least – and Barnabas at minimum. We should note that Paul, Barnabas, and the other unnamed individuals were not among the ones that Revelation counted has having a pearled gate. (For that matter, neither were any prophets.) In any case, I have no issue with the Old Testament prophets being called part of the foundation of the church because of the role that they played in Israel, progressive revelation and salvation history. I have no issue with the apostles past the original 12 (again with Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot) being called part of the foundation of the church because these men did in fact start and sustain the early church with their efforts under the guide of the Holy Spirit. But how can a prophet or apostle thereafter be considered a foundation stone? You cannot keep adding to a foundation after it has been laid, can you? Actually, the answer to that question is yes. When you enlarge a building, say add a wing to it, a new foundation has to be poured to support it, and it can be joined to the original foundation. (Any input from people with backgrounds in architecture, construction, or civil engineering would be welcome!) A person who establishes a church where there was none prior can be considered, especially if that person is obviously gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit as was the father of modern missions, William Carey. However, it is curious that the very people that can likely qualify for the office of apostle and prophet do not seek the titles for themselves. Meanwhile, the people who DO call themselves apostles and prophets in these times have never taken the gospel of Jesus Christ anywhere new. So, it is probably expedient to interpret this passage strictly and state that those two offices ceased in apostolic times, and to challenge anyone who claims this title for himself or herself (as there were female prophets at least) as to whether they are part of the foundation of the church, and if so prove it. In any case, this passage only applies to prophets and apostles, not the sign gifts.

So that leaves us with the final and strongest passage for cessationism, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. And even this one is fraught with problems. We cannot dislocate this passage from is larger context, which is Paul’s love discourse. So, when Paul stated that the sign gifts will cease but love will never cease or fail, the primary point of emphasis here is not that sign gifts will cease. The primary point is that love will never cease, and in general that possessing and exhibiting love is more important than the sign gifts. Now the Corinthian church was making sign gifts the center of their practice and worship; Paul was telling them to make love the center of their practice and worship instead. Does the cessationist state that a reason why Paul was telling them this was that the second generation of this church was not going to have the sign gifts to center their worship on in the first place? Or is a more balanced view is the notion that love should be the focus whether one has sign gifts or not? The latter is the one that better fits the context of the entire chapter and indeed the entire section of 1 Corinthians. So, the doctrine of cessationism would be based on what was at best the second and possibly even the third or fourth idea of importance in that very short passage. It would be fine had the idea been directly stated, or were there some other passages that picked up this idea, fleshed it out, or that we could use to interpret it with. Now it is common to use Hebrews 2:1-4 and Ephesians 2:19-22 to interpret or add to 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, but to me that seems to be something thesis – driven, verses selected to prove a previously existing idea, rather than developing the doctrine from the Biblical evidence. In other words, people who already believed that the sign gifts had passed – or had to explain why those gifts were no longer present in their churches – picked 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 as the best that they could do, and used definitely Hebrews 2:1-4 and possibly also Ephesians 2:19-22 out of their intended meaning to the people that those epistles were written AND to the church that came after them. In other words, engaging in some of the very same creative and tactical uses of scripture that Pentecostals and charismatics are oft accused of doing, although I acknowledge not nearly so bad as what is often done with “Ye are gods children of the Most High” or “speaking things that are not as though they were.”

Now the contextual problems is not the biggest problem. One can still assert cessationism based on 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 alone despite them; my only argument at this point is that the case is very weak. (Much stronger cases can actually be made for requiring Christians to tithe and to abstain from alcohol, doctrinal positions that I disagree with even though I myself do choose to tithe and not drink alcohol.) The biggest problem is internal. Paul stated that the sign gifts were meant only until the time that things were made perfect, then they would cease. “For we have knowledge in part and we prophesy in part but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Verses prior and following speak of the other gifts reveal only a portion of the truth also, but in a time to come, everything would be revealed. So, once all is revealed, there will be no need for the gifts that are designed to reveal the truth to us.

But when will the church be made perfect, and all things revealed? I am sorry, but the answer is not with the death of the last apostle or the completion of the canon, but the return of Jesus Christ. Not only is that self – evident and presupposed from the rest of Christian doctrine (who or what else “perfect” that we should wait on save the Holy Spirit, which came when Jesus Christ went away for a time, and if the coming of the Holy Spirit made things fulfilled that passage would the gifts have been needed?) scripture explicitly states it. Hebrews 9:28, for instance, refers to Jesus Christ’s second return completing the salvation process for the church. Currently He is interceding, but when He returns the intercessory ministry will be done. Why is Jesus Christ interceding now, despite His death justifying the elect? Because though the church has been justified, all is not perfect. Why will the need for His intercessory ministry be done with when He returns? Because perfection will have been accomplished, so no more intercession is required. (By the way, this means real problems for the “dual return” doctrines i.e. the rapture, because one Jesus Christ leaves the right hand of the Father, it means that the church will have been perfected, and there will be no need for Jesus Christ to return again on the last day.)

And that is the reference “when the trump sounds, we shall all be changed incorruptible”, meaning we shall be PERFECTED. Into that context, please consider this: Revelation 10:7 – “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” That verse refers to the trump that Paul is speaking of when he made references to “we shall all not sleep, but when the trump sounds we shall be changed and caught up.” At that point will be the mystery of God finished, when the process of making the church perfect done, and Jesus Christ will leave His intercessory ministry to do the work of reward for the church and punishment for everyone else.

According to the internal evidence of 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, the reference to “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away”, that is when the sign gifts will be taken away. That is my position, and I welcome all thoughtful comments supporting or opposing this position. Also, please note that my position fully corresponds to Reformed doctrine, including but not limited to the solas: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Through Christ Alone, To God alone be the Glory. All legitimate sign gift activity should be governed by those, particularly sola scriptura. If it is not, then it is not of God. Yes, that is aimed at you, followers of Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Kenneth Copeland, and all similar.

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Has The Five Fold Office Of Apostle Ceased To Exist?

Posted by Job on October 26, 2007

Myself and IndependentConservative have been debating this issue. I say “yes, these offices exist because I have found no scriptural evidence convincing to me that they would die out with the twelve”, IndependentConservative is more skeptical (and quite understandably so)! Yet, his comment on another post gave me the opportunity to continue the debate. He said:

No, Paul was the example of an apostle. Men like Timothy, Titus and Phillip were evangelists, 2 Timothy 4:5, Acts 21:8. An evangelist and apostles are not the same in the 5 fold ministry, Ephesians 4:11.

Evangelists do not hold “church leadership” posts. They are NOT elders or deacons. Timothy was an evangelist working on behalf of Paul and did not become a church elder till about his 60’s. Look up the history of Timothy’s life and you’ll see. An evangelist is not even required to meet all the requirements of an Elder or even a deacon, because an evangelist might be a single person who is rooted in scripture, but still seeking to marry. Consider evangelist work as a possible proving ground for potential elders. Evangelists offer prophesy (aka scripture exposition, aka a sermon) and help church leaders, but they function more on the side of spreading the Gospel, while Deacons are church leaders under elders who deal more with the service side of things. Today evangelists operate under the leadership of a home church assembly, but travel out as either instructed by their elders or as the Lord might lead them with their elders in agreement. We here and I wish I could say it was not true, we act in the role of teachers and will face the stiffer judgment for it, James 3:1.

Paul and the apostles planted churches and various evangelists, teachers and elders, but that was in the establishment of the church as a whole. Today, if Town X has no church and there are saints there, an elder from Town Y would do well to send an evangelist to help establish a church in Town X, by helping in the process of selection of elders. The evangelist would not be in Town X to become an elder themselves, just to convey and carry out the process of getting things established, working on behalf of their own elders. This would free the elders up to continue their duties to the church assembly in Town Y.

If I messed up, anyone feel free to offer correction.

My reply: “Today, if Town X has no church and there are saints there, an elder from Town Y would do well to send an evangelist to help establish a church in Town X …”

Would that church send an evangelist or an APOSTLE? After all, the word apostle does mean “sent ones” and IS a five fold office. Perhaps the role of the apostle in this instance would be to coordinate the efforts of the evangelists, choose the elders and deacons, etc. in building up the new church, and then when it is running move on to perform that same task someplace else. That is precisely what not only Paul did in Acts but also BARNABAS (who was identified by Paul as being an apostle and defended as such by people who said that he was not in the epistles) as well. It may well be that the “traveling evangelists/church planters” are actually apostles, especially when part of their duties are as missionaries in areas unreached. Another example: Patrick of Ireland (known as “Saint” Patrick), who is (falsely!) considered by “history” as the first person to take Christianity out of the Roman Empire. Quite appropriately, Patrick did not undertake his missionary journey to Ireland until AFTER he had been ordained as a bishop.

Of course, then since by the example of scripture the very nature of apostleship is itinerant, the people going about calling themselves apostles (and bishops … “let his bishoprick another one take” of Acts 1:20 seems to mean that “bishop” is another term for apostle) today are frauds and need to give themselves new names. The terms are usually in today’s speech used for a person that is in a position of authority over several congregations, whether in a Roman Catholic or liturgical denominational (who did retain much of the ecclesiastical and presbytery structure of the pre – Reformation) setting or among charismatics like Paul Morton that start their own network of churches.

Quite frankly, there is no scriptural precedent for such a role. Even in the days of the earliest church, there was no hierarchical system of governance. Instead, there were only local churches run by leaders chosen from among the church’s own members directly under the headship of Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Jerusalem church was considered “the mother church”, but only because it was the first church and contained the people who personally witnessed the ministry and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was appropriate to look to the Jerusalem church in those days because of the witness and authority of the apostles in a time before the New Testament was completed and the revelation of God to man was finalized, but in these days it is unjustified, and is merely another way of elevating man in the place of God by placing men over several churches and his own authority, inevitably creating a cult of personality. This hierarchical structure simply did not exist in scripture, and historically can be shown to have come about with Constantine’s remodeling the church after the secular Roman government.

Proof of this was that the Jerusalem church, despite being the mother church where those that remained of the original 12 chosen by Jesus Christ and other such dignitaries were present, did not exert FINAL OR COERCIVE HUMAN AUTHORITY over the other churches, but only spiritual influence. Consider, for instance, the first Jerusalem council. The decision of the council was not handed down by fiat, but rather was arrived at by spiritual consensus with Jews from other churches participating and providing input.

Further, consider the reason why the council was convened in the first place: the Gentile mission, which was not initiated by the Jerusalem church, but by the church at Antioch completely of its own accord. The “mother church” only gave spiritual confirmation and guidance after the fact – and after it was already successful and thereby proving God was in it. (And this came after Philip the evangelist and other Hellenized Jews evangelized the Ethiopian eunuch and the Samaritans, also apart from being directed to do so by any centralised authority save the Holy Spirit.)

So this notion that “the church authority was transferred from Jerusalem to Rome because of the authority of Peter because the perfidious Jews rejected Christ” is quite simply lies, because nothing in scripture supports or justifies absolute central church authority resting with Peter, a pope or bishop, or anyone else other than Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiach. This was demonstrated in Galatians when Peter himself had to be corrected by Paul. So, the people that call themselves “apostle” or even “bishop” because of their man – made authority over their feudal system are calling themselves things that they are not.

It is my contention that there are actual apostles out there, itinerant church planters that are not given much consideration or regard by the religion entertainment and merchandising complex and bureaucracy that we now call modern Christianity, that are filling the office even if they are not known by the title. In a similar fashion, the people that call themselves “prophets” in most instances are not, but there are nonetheless people that hold the office that are not known by the title and have no respect or honor in their own country or by their own people (and by this I mean church folk) save a faithful few.

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