The Devastating Damage of False Christendom


The Devastating Damage of False Christendom

Richard Hollerman

I’ve often lamented over the vast deleterious effects that false religion has had on the world.  I am referring particularly to that element of religion that purports to be “Christian.”  When I come upon references to the idea that there are 2.2 billion “Christians” in the world, I’m aware that half of that number (1.1 billion) are Roman Catholics.  Additionally, there are 235 million Orthodox, 82 million Anglicans, and 385 Protestants that identify themselves as “Christians.”  (2010 World Almanac)  Thus, there is a conglomeration of different and competing groups that claim the label Christian.

This kind of categorization has had widespread damaging effects on many through the years.  It is true that some religions don’t directly claim to be Christians.  For instance, if one talks to Catholics and asks what their religion is, many will say that they are “Catholics” rather than “Christians.”  In fact, sometimes if one asks if they are “Christians,” they will reply, “No, we are Catholics.”  Such people don’t readily identify themselves as Christians, although their authorities would make this claim. 

However, the great majority of those classified as “Christians” in official sources cannot claim that they are truly Christians in the New Testament sense.  Surely if anyone is an actual Christian, he will have become one by submitting to Christ’s “Great Commission,” the last orders that He gave to His apostles (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48).  If we examine these accounts of Christ’s words, we see that one must know and believe the true “gospel” (good news) of Christ Jesus (Mark 16:15-16).  How many of the 2.2 billion “Christians” have all of their faith in the gospel of Christ’s person and nature, of His death and resurrection, and of the salvation that He brings to the world?  Many don’t at all.

Examining Christ’s commission further, we notice that to be a Christian, one must repent of sins and turn to God and His will (Luke 24:47).  Repentance has often been a leading element of one’s response to the gospel.  How many of the 2.2 billion people have really come to a point in their life when they renounced their past life of sin and embraced the will of God in Christ?  Surely not many! 

We also notice that the very center of one’s response to the gospel, is baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), a baptism that is an expression of faith in Christ (Mark 16:15-16).  How many of the 2.2 billion professing “Christians” have experienced this response?  A very small percentage of them have!  Baptism, for instance, means “immersion” in the Greek language (the New Testament was written in Greek), thus when Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), what He actually said was, “He who has believed and has been immersed [in water] shall be saved.” 

Furthermore, Jesus makes it clear that this baptism was an expression of faith or belief in Christ.  Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been immersed shall be saved.”  A large percentage of the 2.2 billion people claiming to be “Christians” are from “baby baptizing” churches, thus they haven’t really experienced a baptism of faith or a faith-baptism.

Beyond this, Jesus said that when one responds to the Lord in baptism, he is to be taught “all things” that Jesus said for us to observe (Matthew 28:19-20).  When we compare what Christ (and the apostles) taught, we see a huge gulf between that and what modern Christendom teaches and believes.

We conclude, then, that the overwhelming majority of those who are numbered among the 2.2 billion “Christians” in the official statistics are not genuine “Christians” in the New Testament sense.  Of course, they may claim to be, but claiming something and experiencing something can be very different.

What is the result of this?  We see the results in many ways, including the media.  What do you think when you open the newspaper and read of Muslims killing “Christians” in Indonesia, Afghanistan or Iraq?  What comes to your mind when you hear of “Christians” being murdered in Egypt?  Were the Mulims really killing true Christians or only those who profess to be Christians?  Surely the latter.  When one inquires further than the headlines, we often notice that these people were part of a denomination or church that is far removed from the teachings of Christ!  They were Christians in name but not in reality.  We also sometimes read of “Christians” fighting back and rioting in Egypt, Indonesia, and elsewhere, to “defend” themselves or to seek “revenge” against those who have killed members of their own “Christian” church.    But this is very different from the way of Christ.

Years ago, I used to cringe when I would read of “Christian” fighting in North Ireland.  The story would say that Protestant Christians and Catholic Christians were battling and killing each other and that both factions had their own “armies” of fighting men.  Was this an expression of true Christianity?  Jesus said that we are to not take revenge but are to love others and do good to them, even to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-43; Luke 6:27-28; Romans 12:17-21).

When you read of “Christian Europe,” what do you think about?  Church attendance in places like France, Germany, Italy and Britain is very low, as low as 3 to 6% of the population.  Then consider the fact that most of those 3 to 6% are in false, counterfeit “Christian” churches. We can see that “Christian Europe” is a misnomer; it doesn’t really exit.  In fact, Europe has become a secular and humanistic continent, far removed from true Christianity.  In fact, most missionaries will report that it is extremely difficult to make inroads into Europe since nearly everyone claims to be Christian (because of infant baptism) and a member of the state church, but very few of them are even religious.

As we near election time, we read of one candidate being a “Christian” because he occasionally goes to church or because he claims to believe in Christ.  Does this make him a true Christian?  We also read of one political party “holding Christian values” while the other party doesn’t.  Is this true?  Actually, neither Republicans nor Democrats can be called “Christian” because of the great number of “non-Christian” views and policies they debate and initiate.  And if we look at the lifestyle of most professing Christians in government offices, we must sadly conclude that there are many who profess Christianity but don’t really live it.  While a political party may oppose homosexual “marriage,” abortion, labor unions, and other ungodly relationships and practices, this doesn’t really make it “Christian” and the other party non-Christian.  No, it takes much more than this.

If we were to spend much time discussing “Christian” history, we would find an even more lamentable story of intrigue, strife, bitterness, persecution, and murder.  It is said that the Catholic Church persecuted millions upon millions of non-Catholics during the Middle Ages and up to the seventeenth century in the infamous Inquisition.  Was that really a Christian thing to do?  Of course, it wasn’t.  Instead of Christians inflicting all of this mayhem and suffering, it may have been Christians who were suffering at the hands of wicked Catholic authorities!

Consider also the infamous Crusades.  Were the military expeditions of the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries really “Christian”?  Were the thousands who participated in these campaigns really saved, redeemed, regenerated Christians?  In no way.  Not only were the participants not saved, according to the Bible, but they were engaging in a military effort entirely opposed to Scriptural principles and the way of Christ Jesus (Romans 12:17-21).  And yet, some may still refer to the “Christian” Crusades whereas it might be better labeled the “Catholic” Crusades (especially since the Catholic “popes” promoted and supported these efforts)!

Germany claimed to be “Christian” when they sought the “final solution” to kill millions of Jews.  What did the Jews think of this?  They must have concluded, “If this is Christian, I want nothing to do with Christ!”  Do we see the evil that claiming to be a Christian can do when the name of Jesus is defamed and His teachings are violated?  Regardless of the false claim, Hitler’s Germany was the very opposite of true Christianity.  In fact, his regime not only murdered Jews, it also murdered Christians.

I sometimes wonder about Islam.  We know that this false religion is spreading farther and farther in the world and I wonder if this faith of bloodshed, terrorism, and false doctrine would even exist if professing Christians had been real Christians!  History seems to say that the only “Christianity” that Muhammad knew in Arabia was a defective and false brand of professing “Christians” who elevated Mary to a status far beyond the lowly Mary of Scripture.  Muhammad came to believe that Christians worship both God and Mary and that God and Mary had a Son named Jesus (Isa).  This was the Trinity!  We know that Muhammad was wrong in his thinking here, but this false view is reflected in the Koran.  If Muhammad had known the Scriptures in his language, would he have made so many mistakes in his references to Christianity in the Koran?  Should Christians have translated the New Testament into his language?  If they had, Muhammad may have had a better understanding of the truth and not arrived at such incorrect views of Christianity.  But the only Christianity that he knew was a defective institutional form of Christendom that didn’t deserve the name Christian.  But today we have the Koran—believed by a billion people and it is based on false views and lies about Jesus Christ and Christianity.

What should we say about Christendom in the United States?  We know that the TV (and radio) is filled with false religion that masquerades as Christianity.  Probably all of us have heard someone say, “I can’t accept this idea of Christianity.  I watched a flamboyant, money-hungry preacher on TV last week and found that he lives in a mansion, drives a luxury car, and wears $1,000 suits.  If that is Christianity, I want nothing to do with it!  All they talk about is money!”

We know that this is a false religion and not genuine Christianity, but the public somehow has been deceived into thinking that this is really the way of Christ.  This counterfeit Christianity results in large numbers closing their eyes to the truth and rejecting anything to do with Christ, when they are really reacting to a false religion that is not the real thing!

We could go on and on and discuss more examples of the harmful effects of false Christianity.  You could probably provide some illustrations from your own life.  We can’t do anything about this terrible situation other than to make sure that we, ourselves, are saved from sin and spiritually born into God’s family.  We can make sure we know the truth and do all we can to share the truth, thereby showing to others that what is thought of as Christianity really is not genuine.  We can make sure that we have separated ourselves from this counterfeit religion and fully embraced the truth of the Bible.  Let’s not be confused about the popular, cultural, but counterfeit Christianity.  Let’s make sure we have believed, accepted, and live the way of Christ so that God will say that we are real Christians!  Let’s give people a taste of genuine Christianity so that the way of Christ will have a witness in this fallen and deceived world!

 

 

   

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