True Christianity #378

True Christianity (Rose translation)

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378. 9. There Is Faith That Is True, Faith That Is Illegitimate, and Faith That Is Hypocritical

From its cradle, the Christian church was attacked and torn apart by schisms and heresies. As time went on, it was lacerated and butchered by them, much like the person we read about who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and was surrounded by robbers; after they stripped him and beat him up, the robbers left him half-dead (Luke 10:30).

The end result was what we read in Daniel about that church: "In the end desolation [will fly in] on a bird of abominations; even to the close and the cutting down, it will drip steadily upon the devastation" (Daniel 9:27); and the Lord's statement: The end will come when you see the abomination of desolation that Daniel the prophet foretold (Matthew 24:14-15).

What happened to the church could be compared to a ship loaded down with merchandise of the highest quality. It was battered by storm winds immediately upon leaving port and a little later was wrecked at sea and sank. Some of its cargo was spoiled by water and some was carried off by fish.

[2] Church history makes it clear that from its infancy the Christian church was assaulted and torn apart. For example, even in the time of the apostles it was assaulted by Simon, who was a Samaritan by birth and a sorcerer by trade (see Acts of the Apostles 8:9 and following). It was also assaulted by Hymenaeus and Philetus, whom Paul mentions in his Epistle to Timothy []; and by Nicolas, whose followers were the so-called Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation 2:6 and Acts of the Apostles 6:5; not to mention Corinth.

Just after the time of the apostles, many others went into revolt. For example, the Marcionites, the Noetians, the Valentinians, the Encratites, the Cataphrygians, the Quartodecimans, the Alogians, the Catharans, the Origenists or Adamantines, the Sabellians, the Samosatenians, the Manicheans, the Meletians, and finally the Arians.

After that, armies of heretical movements invaded the church - the Donatists, the Photinians, the Acatians or Semi-Arians, the Eunomians, the Macedonians, the Nestorians, the Predestinarians, the Papists, the Zwinglians, the Anabaptists, the Schwenkfeldians, the Synergists, the Socinians, the Antitrinitarians, the Quakers, the Herrnhuters, and many others.

At length Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin prevailed over them all. Their teachings are dominant today.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 8:9-20)

[3] There are three main reasons why there were so many disputes and rebellions in the church: (1) the divine Trinity was misunderstood; (2) there was no just concept of the Lord; (3) the suffering on the cross was taken to be redemption itself.

The truth about these three things is essential to the faith the church is based on, the faith from which it is called a church. If people did not know the truth about these three things, it was inevitable that everything about the church would be dragged first off course and finally in the opposite direction. It was also inevitable that when the church arrived at that stage it would still believe that it had a true faith in God and a belief in all God's truths.

This situation among these people in the church is like people who put a blindfold over their eyes and believe they are walking in a straight line, although step after step they are actually veering off course and eventually heading in the opposite direction, where there is a pit into which they fall.

The only way the wandering people of the church can be redirected onto the road of truth is by their knowing what true faith is, what illegitimate faith is, and what hypocritical faith is. Therefore this will be demonstrated.

a. There is only one true faith; it is faith in the Lord God our Savior Jesus Christ. It exists in people who believe that he is the Son of God, that he is the God of heaven and earth, and that he is one with the Father.

b. Illegitimate faith is all faith that departs from the one and only true faith. Illegitimate faith exists in people who climb up some other way and view the Lord not as God but only as a human being.

c. Hypocritical faith is no faith at all.

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True Christian Religion 392

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.