The New Dark Ages Part One-Setting The Stage
Before I start this series which (God willing) will go on until the end of April I want to set this up properly.
What was the Dark Ages?
To keep it simple and for the sake of space I will try to simplify.
Constantine converted the Empire to Christianity(merging church and state) the Roman Empire had already passed its peak.
Then it became Christian and it entered a thousand years of ignorance, squalor and filth, dragging the civilization of the whole of Europe down with it. The world had entered The Dark Ages.
When Constantine I adopted Christianity in 313, he among other things hoped that the new religion would help unify the Empire. However, such expectations were threatened by the appearance of heresies inside of the Church. Constantine felt compelled to involve himself with these doctrinal or disciplinary struggles, as in the case of the Donatists or the Arians. He tried to enforce decisions reached by the Church by banishing obstinate opponents - clergy and laity - of these decisions. Non-Christians however were not concerned by these measures. Some of his successors, while leaning to the sides of the Arians, increased their use of force in Church matters, regularly banishing bishops from their sees. Theodosius, an unequivocal supporter of Orthodox Christianity, also made Christianity the official religion of the Empire.
To make this all simple learning outside of what the pope, priest or what the Magesterium taught was punishable by death. You were not even allowed to read the Bible for yourself. As well as most folks could not read so they relied on symbols portrayed in the church windows of stain glass or the Stations of the Cross to communicate scriptural truth to them.
They had to rely totally on whoever was teaching for truth and could not be a faithful berean.
Acts 17:11 "These were more fair–minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
In the Dark Ages if you questioned the authority of the church you could be killed.
Rather than criticizing these early believers for "checking out" the veracity of what had been taught to them by the apostle Paul, this verse actually praises them for doing so. And while it is clear from the Greek text that the Bereans are being applauded here primarily for their enthusiastic acceptance of the Gospel, this verse also - so far from condemning them for a lack of trust - actually commends them for their action. This verse plainly approves the practice of taking the time and interest to consult the scriptures in order to establish the veracity of what is being taught. We find this to be a most reasonable approach, for:
If what is taught is really true, then the scriptures will clearly confirm it.
It is true that taking advantage of accurate Bible teaching is an important part of the believer's spiritual growth. Indeed, that is the whole point of this ministry. Furthermore, the provision of Bible teaching is an undisputed ministry of God the Holy Spirit (Eph.4:11-16). At the same time, however, it is the responsibility of the listener to compare what is being taught with the Bible. To be sure, this should be done in a spirit of humility (as the Bereans demonstrated), but it should be done. No one who teaches the Bible should have a problem with this, for such a procedure is really the only way to keep everyone honest. As believers in Jesus Christ, we must ultimately place our faith in God and in the Word of God - Jesus, the living Word, and in the Bible, the written Word - not in man's words.
There is a lot of ugly history here but what bought Christianity OUT of the Dark Ages was Christian being allowed to read their Bibles for themselves to find out what was true.
Let me make one more point here because there is going to be another aspect to this series.
And that is Gnosticism.
What is Gnosticism?
(from Greek gnosis, knowledge) is a term created by modern scholars to describe a diverse, syncretistic religious movement, especially in the first centuries of the common era. Gnostics believed in gnosis, the knowledge of God enabled by secret teachings. Some Gnostics considered themselves Christian, identifying Jesus as the divine spirit incarnated to bring gnosis to humanity. Other Gnostics were not even nominally Christian, and several Gnostic texts appear to have no Christian element at all. Still others were certainly devout mystic ascetics who worshipped Jesus and lived in their own unique ways according to His teachings.
Gnostics taught that humans were divine souls trapped in a material world created by an evil spirit, the demiurge. In order to free oneself from the evil, material world, one needed gnosis, or spiritual knowledge. Initiates were instructed in secret teachings to help them achieve gnosis. God was depicted as a pleroma composed of multiple manifestations.
Because the textual evidence comes from the first few centuries AD, many scholars have assumed that Gnosticism did not predate this period, but earlier historians of religion saw it as an outgrowth of ancient mystical traditions in Asia, especially Iran.
Some Christians today such as author of Quantum Spirituality Leonard Sweet is textbook Gnostic.
We would call Len a New Ager.
You cant really read Quantum Spirituality and come to any logical conclusion that Leonard Sweet is a Christian.
As I write this series we need to be reminded (myself included) that the Lord commanded us to love our neighbor.
So we need to continue to love those discussed here even as we expose them and their false deception.
Ginghamsburg, Kim Miller and the origins of multi sensory worship-Experience based worship.