Author Topic: Cult of the Viper  (Read 1988 times)

Devious Viper
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Cult of the Viper
« on: August 30, 2006, 12:25:19 pm »
Sorry - the thread title is tongue-in-cheek, and I apologise if I dragged you into reading it under false pretences  :| 
It's actually a post about Christianity, more specifically that branch of Christianity to which I adhere. Feel free to use the back button now...

Still here? Okay, don't say you weren't warned. Things may get pretty doctrinal from here on in, and when you boil up doctrine, theology and zealotry you tend to get a pretty explosive goo in the bottom of the pan.

Strictly speaking, I guess you would call the doctrine of my faith Apostolic Christianity. It is called Apostolic since we believe it to represent the form of Christianity that the twelve Apostles followed. But it isn't quite that straightforward; in some ways it is Sabbatarian, and I identify closest with Messianic Jews - although I am not Jewish.

Hm... Confused? A brief history is perhaps in order...

We trace our origins to the Church that Jesus/Yeshua founded in the early first century. We follow the same teachings, doctrines and practices established then. Acts 2 records the beginning of that Church. From relatively few people, the Church spread from first-century Judea to the far corners of the Roman Empire and beyond. Yet it remained small in numbers (Luke 12:32), partly because it resolutely refused to be drawn into the compromising, corrupt mixture of paganism that dominated religious belief in the Roman Empire.

The Church began on the biblical Feast of Pentecost. On that day G-d poured out the power of His Spirit on the disciples who were gathered in Jerusalem in obedience to His law and Yeshua's personal instructions (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4). This fulfilled the promise He had earlier made to His disciples: "On this rock [referring to Himself; 1 Corinthians 10:4] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [the grave] shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

Here was a dual promise. He would build a spiritual body of believers that would continue to exist down through the ages, even to the end of the present age and His return to earth. No human force of the physical world, or evil power from the spirit world, would ever be able to destroy His Church.

The book of Acts, written by Luke, tells the story of how the Church, from its beginning in Jerusalem, spread the gospel of the Kingdom of G-d to the world of the Roman Empire. In Luke's historical sketch we see the Church faithfully dedicated to proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God, with Yeshua as its head. Luke's account describes the overriding goal and purpose that united this early body of believers.

Paul informs us of an important characteristic of the Church that Yeshua/Christ built. With Him as its foundational cornerstone, the Church's foundation also rests on the teachings of the apostles and, not to be overlooked, the prophets of the Old Testament (Ephesians 2:19-20). Yet, only a few decades after the crucifixion, the Church began to change. Heretical teachers started reinterpreting Scripture to suit their own ideas. In the centuries that followed, greater divisions arose over doctrine.

As a result, the message preached by Yeshua/Christ and His apostles became subtly transformed. As time passed, this altered message came to be almost exclusively about the person of Yeshua, at the cost of neglecting the vital heart and core of His teachings. Among a growing number of people, a distorted and in some ways fictionalized account of the Messenger of the Kingdom replaced the original message He brought. This transformation was well under way even in the days of the apostles, when Paul denounced those who were teaching "another Yeshua" and "a different gospel" (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

The result was a clever masking of the gospel's most central message: the return of Yeshua/Christ to establish the Kingdom of G-d on earth and the all-important nature of that Kingdom. This abandonment of the gospel's central message was greatly abetted by events occurring in the Roman Empire at the close of the first and the beginning of the second centuries of the Christian era. During the early part of the first century the Jewish religion was accorded remarkable deference by the Roman government. And, for a short time, Roman officials even regarded Christians as merely another sect of the Jews, meaning Christians received the same deference accorded to those of the Jewish faith.

But in the latter half of the first century a major change occurred. It was inevitable that Roman paganism and idolatry (which had come to include emperor worship) would come into conflict with the strict faithfulness of the Jews and Christians to the true G-d. It wasn't long before both Christians and Jews fell out of favour with the Romans. In A.D. 66 many of the Jews living in Judea rebelled against Roman rule, and in A.D.70 the Roman legions captured Jerusalem and razed the temple.

For many decades after this event the very word Jew became a racial and religious epithet among Roman citizens. (A second Jewish revolt from A.D.132 to 135 made matters even worse; Jerusalem was destroyed and no Jew was allowed to set foot there on pain of death.)

As these events unfolded and anti-Jewish sentiment spread throughout the empire (resulting in the deaths of Peter, Paul and many of the original Christians), many who professed to be Christians began distancing themselves from anything that even appeared to be Jewish. Since the beliefs and practices of the original Church had been built around the Jews, this rejection of everything Jewish also led to major alterations in, and abandonment of, major aspects of the original teachings of Yeshua/Christ and His apostles.

What followed was a proliferation of groups and teachers calling themselves Christian, but whose traditions and teachings did not originate with Yeshua/Christ and His apostles. Some chose to retain many of the pagan traditions they had formerly practiced and began blending those beliefs and practices with their newly acquired belief that eternal life was accessible through the Messiah. Some simply fell prey to a growing deception that involved "false apostles [and] deceitful workers" who "transform[ed] themselves into apostles of Christ" but in reality were, however unwittingly, ministers of Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Gradually, as the apostles died out, these "false brethren" (2 Corinthians 11:26) either abandoned or altered biblical teachings and traditions that they feared would associate them with the Jewish religion. In the process they also gutted critical aspects of the message and way of life taught by Yeshua/Jesus and His apostles.

At the most fundamental level was controversy over G-d's law: how, or whether, it should set the standard for Christian conduct. Those who wanted to avoid any association with the Jews were determined to abandon everything that might identify them with the Jewish religion, including any direct obligation to obey G-d's law. They ignored or reasoned around the fact that Yeshua/Jesus had already given a definitive answer to this issue when He said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:17-18, NIV).

Accordingly, when one asked Yeshua/Jesus, "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" He answered, "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:16-17).

Paul expressed the same support of G-d's law, stating: "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping G-d's commands is what counts" (1 Corinthians 7:19, NRSV). Paul also wrote that the Messiah came not to abandon but "to confirm the promises made to the fathers" (Romans 15:8 ).

Therefore, we find the Church described in Acts faithfully keeping the Ten Commandments, including the seventh-day Shabbat/Sabbath. The Church of that era also observed the same sacred festivals as the Jews (see Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 16:1-16; Leviticus 23). As the original Church expanded to include Gentiles (non-Israelites), we see that they, too, were taught to observe these biblically established festivals (Acts 13:42, 44; 18:4; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Yet, when we look at the history of the publicly prominent form of Christianity of later centuries, we find that it had abandoned those festivals, celebrating instead an entirely different set of days—Christmas, Easter and Sunday, the first day of the week. Those who faithfully continued keeping the seventh-day Shabbat, Passover and the other scripturally commanded festivals were gradually marginalized as heretics.

As new leaders with different views gained more control over congregations, they progressively expelled those who faithfully held to apostolic beliefs and practices. Late in his life, near the end of the first century, the apostle John tells of one such incident:

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us ... And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church" (3 John 9-10).

Persecuted not only by authorities of the Roman Empire but also by those who had falsely assumed a Christian identity, these ostracized but faithful brethren often had to retreat into hiding. The true Christianity and Church of Yeshua/Jesus and the apostles began to disappear from public view.

Shortly before the apostle John died, he received a revealing message, in a vision, to pass on to the beleaguered faithful remaining in Ephesus: "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false" (Revelation 2:2-3, NIV).

Outside of the New Testament, few sources have survived to convey any details of what happened to the Christian religion during that time. Yet the New Testament record is clear. A major breach had occurred within Christianity. In fact, Yeshua/Jesus and His apostles had continually warned that this would occur (Matthew 7:15; 24:5, 11; Acts 20:29-31; 1 John 4:1). The Messiah gave this warning: "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance" (Matthew 24:24-25, NASB).

In the early decades of the Church, the apostles vehemently opposed attempts to corrupt the truth they had personally received from Yeshua/Christ (1 John 2:24-26). Paul warned some of the very elders he had ordained that "from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears" (Acts 20:30-31).

Peter proclaimed: "There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies ... And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed" (2 Peter 2:1-2). John also warned that "many deceivers" had already gone out into the world with their heresies masquerading as Christianity (2 John 7).

How could this happen? Yeshua/Jesus explained that, amid the "wheat" (His true people), Go-d would allow "tares" to grow (Matthew 13:37-43). At first they would appear to be indistinguishable from the wheat, but, in the end, they would bear no heads of grain, no fruit to prove them genuine. On the surface they would look like real disciples, but in reality they would be far different. They would have within them no depth of commitment to the true gospel and His teachings.

Thus out of the apostolic period of the Church emerged two distinct "Christian" religions. One, small and almost invisible on the world scene, remained faithful to the original message. The other appropriated Christ's name even as it incorporated ideas and practices from other religions, a process known as syncretism, as was common in the Roman Empire of the day. Traditions of men replaced the commands of G-d and became entrenched in what would become the predominant form of Christianity known to the world.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 01:56:03 am by Devious Viper »

Devious Viper
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Re: Cult of the Viper
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2006, 01:52:46 pm »
Part II

I am also a Christian Zionist; see this link HERE

Having explained above the history of my Church, you can perhaps see why I find, in particular, Roman Catholicism, to be distinctly non-Christian. But it isn't just the Catholics... Zionism is not simply, as our opponents would like you to think, a right-wing or neo-Con political movement. I don't see it as political at all. To me it is G-d's Law. Christianity today, even in those branches that haven't become too corrupted by pagan, Roman and satanic corruption, follows what is referred to as "Replacement Theology."

This is the false teaching that the Christian church (small 'c' - it is not the Church established by the Apostles) has replaced Israel, that the New Testament/Covenant (the B'rit Hadashah) has cancelled out the Old Testament (the Tanakh) and that G-d has finished with the Jewish people as the focus of His redemptive plan. Replacement Theology assumes that all the promises made to the Jews as a nation, including the promise of the land, have now been transferred to the church in a spiritual sense.

In this view, the church is a completely new body having no continuity with the Jewish people and G-d's covenant with them, and the New Covenant (celebrated in the L-rd's Table/supper) was made with the church, completely replacing G-d's covenant with Israel. In this scheme "the land" no longer belongs to Israel: instead she is seen as an alien invader on lands which belong to the Arab people. Indeed, the "land of Israel" no longer refers to a literal land, but to "Christ", "the kingdom of G-d" or the Church's "spiritual inheritance". Thus, when the Old Testament speaks of the Jews returning to Jerusalem, the New Testament, according to Replacement theologians, now reinterprets this as Christians coming to the New (heavenly) Jerusalem. Similarly, building up the ruined cities means that the kingdom of G-d is being built up; and the desert blossoming refers to the heavenly kingdom etc.

In particular, the covenant people of G-d are now no longer a physical people, but exclusively a spiritual entity, the church. A particularly dangerous style of Replacement theology is that being proclaimed by the Kingdom Now or Dominion or Reconstructionist teachers, which is affecting the charismatic/pentecostal branch of the evangelical Christian community in the USA Some of this teaching contains dangerous elements of anti-Semitism. I see its tentacles creeping into some of the posts on WOTA, incidentally (specifically, recently Veilhawk.) One of its most vociferous proponents in the USA, David Chilton, wrote:

"Modern apostate Jews have absolutely no theological, and therefore no historical right to the land of Palestine."

"Israel is now a sacrificial corpse."

"G-d's people must not seek to reform Israel, with its new religion of Judaism, but abandon her to her fate."

As the conflict in the Middle East increases, with Israel seemingly obstinate, unbending and aggressive, this theology seems easier to accept. Perhaps Israel should not be in the Middle East, perhaps peace might come to the Middle East if Christians withdrew their support from Israel and backed the Palestinian cause? As the conflict in and around Israel continues and even worsens, there is the danger that an increasing number of Christians will turn against the clear simple meaning of the Scripture concerning the return of the Jews to their land, and accept replacement theology. Not only will this cause the church to abandon the Jews as a nation (Israel), but will, according to the plain teaching of the New Testament, expose her to the displeasure and judgement of G-d, resulting in unspeakable loss.

"I am speaking to you who are Gentiles… do not be arrogant toward the branches, but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, 'Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.' Quite right they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited but fear; for if G-d did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Behold then the kindness and severity of G-d; to those who fell, severity, but to you G-d's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off." (Romans 11:13, 18-22).

If God has transferred Israel's promises exclusively to the Christian church, this can only mean that He has once and for all rejected Israel as a nation. But if G-d intended to take away Israel's inheritance, why did Yeshua/Jesus say: "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18)

If G-d has turned away from Israel and exchanged her for a new nation, why did Paul say: "G-d has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!", and then quote Old Testament scripture to prove it? (Romans 11:1, 26-27) If God has forever taken away the land of Israel from the Jewish people, why then did He say: "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My Holy Name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great Name... For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land." (Ezekiel 36:22-24)

Moreover, Replacement theology makes nonsense of Biblical exegesis in that sometimes verses must be split in two halves, applying one half to the Jewish people and the other half to the church. "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is perished. We are completely cut off.' (Obviously the Jews). Therefore prophesy, and say to them, 'Thus says the L-rd G-d, Behold, I will open your graves. My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.' " (Presumably the church). (Ezekiel 37:11-12)

A similar examination of passages such as Ezekiel 39:23, 27; Jeremiah 32:37,42-44 will emphasise this point. Although it is sometimes claimed that these passages refer to the first return from Babylon in the third century B.C., it is clear from a number of scriptures that a second and final restoration out of all the lands is promised by G-d (Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 16:14-15; Ezekiel 39:28; Amos 9:14-15).

The grave mistake of replacement theologians is that they break the fundamental law of the harmony of the Old and New Testament. The New Testament does not repeat all the promises of the Old Testament because its writers and central characters presupposed the authenticity and accuracy of Moses and the Prophets. Thus, in particular, the reason Yeshua/Jesus did not spend time teaching that physical Israel would be living in the physical promised land in the last days was that He presupposed that all the Old Testament prophetic scriptures were valid and literally true. Unlike Yeshua/Jesus, Replacement theologians cannot accept the literal truth of the Old Testament.

Replacement theologians also misunderstand the way the New Testament refers to the Old Testament. The New Testament makes a wider application of the same principles enunciated in the Old Testament, but never at the expense of the original meaning. The "spiritual" meaning is dependent on the "natural" because it flows from it. The New Testament speaks in terms of "even as, so also" rather than "instead of, now this".

Thus with regard to Israel and the Church, the New Testament teaches "even as" Israel, "so also" the Church, not "instead of" Israel, "now the Church". For example, "even as" G-d promised to deal with Israel in blessing and discipline, "so also" will He bless and discipline the Church. Spiritual fulfilment does not replace the natural, but hangs upon it, flows from it, and completes it. This is the meaning of the term "fulfil" when used by the New Testament in relation to the Old Testament.

An example of this principle is seen in 1 Peter 2:9 where Paul is not saying that the Church has replaced Israel as the chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, but that "even as" Israel in the Old Testament was (and still is) chosen and called as G-d's special people to declare His glory (Exodus 19:5-6 etc), "so also" does the body of believers, the Church have a similar calling. (Although Replacement theologians use this passage to support their view, it should be noted anyway that Peter is addressing his letter to Jewish believers in the Diaspora, and contrasts them with the Gentiles.)

The view that G-d has rejected Israel also raises serious difficulties as regards the character of G-d. To picture G-d as having rejected the people of Israel because of their sin seems inconsistent with the meaning of passages such as Jeremiah 31:35-37. We need to remember that grace, and not human merit, is the ground of all salvation be it personal or national, and despite Israel's recognised failings today as a nation, she will be delivered and restored on the ground of G-d's grace and faithfulness, never her merit.

We read concerning the individual that none of those given by the Father to the Son can ever be taken out of His hand - nothing can obstruct His eternal plans for them (John 10:28; Romans 8:28-29). There is however no such explicit statement concerning the Church. G-d's faithfulness to the Church is inferred from and follows His promises of faithfulness to Israel.
Thus if G-d can be thought of terminating His covenant with Israel and replacing her with another body (the church) because of unfaithfulness or any other reason, then He can equally and for similar reasons forsake the church as a whole. In view of the church's sad history over the past 1900 years, including today, failings, which are at least as great as those of ancient Israel, this is dangerous ground to tread. It is hardly likely that anyone would wish to claim that the church has proven herself more worthy of G-d's goodness than Israel, especially in view of the greater spiritual light the church claims to enjoy in the New Covenant.

We must say categorically that if, after all the clear, unequivocal promises of G-d to Israel, G-d has rejected the Jews, and replaced her with another body, Gentile Christians have no guarantee whatsoever that G-d will not change His plans for the Church, take away the everlasting covenant, and replace the Church with some other people and with some other plan.

G-d requires the Church, which is predominantly Gentile, to show mercy to the Jewish people in recognition of the mercy she has received from Him, in that although once "strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without G-d in the
world", Gentiles have been brought into the good of the New Covenant initially made with the house of Israel and which has not been rescinded (Ephesians 2:11-13; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Over the past nineteen centuries the church has signally failed to do this, but has rather rejected the Jewish people, persecuted them, and claimed all the promises made to them exclusively for herself.

In these last days G-d is giving the church what may be the last chance to show mercy, compassion and support for Israel, before the final day of judgement on both church and nations. Yet in this present day of world antagonism to and misunderstanding of Israel, many in the church are joining the chorus of condemnation - and are thus exposing her to the danger of G-d's judgement. Replacement theology in all its forms, be it for the glory of the church, under a cloak of concern for Israel's morality, or with aggressive anti-Semitism, is a grievous error to be exposed.

"Be not arrogant towards the branches, but if you are arrogant, remember it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you... Do not be conceited but fear; for if G-d did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you... Behold then the kindness and severity of G-d... to you, G-d's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off." (Romans 11:13-22)

As G-d pushes Israel towards her final destiny, world hostility, ignorance and self-righteous hypocrisy will grow ever more strongly even in the church. It is not going to be easy to stand by the Word of G-d - but in the end it will be the only place worth standing...

« Last Edit: August 30, 2006, 06:10:50 pm by Devious Viper »

Devious Viper
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Re: Cult of the Viper
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2006, 02:16:51 pm »
The next part is where it gets a bit more complicated... I'll leave you to mull this over before going further  :wink:
« Last Edit: August 30, 2006, 02:18:59 pm by Devious Viper »

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Re: Cult of the Viper
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2006, 08:35:02 am »
I would like to thank you for taking the time to share this with us.  I bookmarked the above website so I can look it over at leisure.

One thing I realize about myself is that I am sadly 'out of it' regarding a lot of the politics.  I suppose I need to start keeping up with the news.  I got into the habit of not listening to most of it because I usually find it depressing.

It seems that at WOTA Veilhawk apologized and admitted his views were tainted.  I had never heard of Replacement Theology until yesterday - first at synagogue and then on-line.