The Garb Of The Clergy

Let's now shift gears and look at the development of the clergy attire. Christian clergy did not dress differently from the common people until the coming of Constantine. Contrary to popular opinion, clergy apparel (including the ecclesiastical vestments of the high church tradition) did not originate with the priestly dress of the Old Testament. It rather has its origin in the secular dress of the Greco-Roman world. Here is the story Clement of Alexandria argued that the clergy should wear...

The Fallacy Of Ordination

In the fourth century, theology and ministry were the exclusive domain of the priests. Work and war were the domain of the laity. What was the rite of passage into the sacred realm of the priest Ordination.' Before we examine the historical roots of ordination, let's look at how leadership was recognized in the early church. After beginning a church, the apostolic workers (church planters) of the first century would revisit that body after a period of time. In some of those churches, the...

From Priest To Pastor

John Calvin did not like using the word priest to refer to ministers.' He preferred the term pastor.' In Calvin's mind, pastor was the highest word one could use for ministry. He liked it because the Bible referred to Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13 20).152 Ironically, Calvin believed that he was restoring the New Testament bishop (episkopos) in the person of the pastor ' Luther also did not like using the word priest to define the new Protestant ministers. He wrote,...

What Is Wrong With This Picture

It is clear that the Protestant order of worship did not originate with the Lord Jesus, the apostles, or the New Testament Scriptures.' This in itself does not make the order of worship misguided. It just means it has no biblical basis. Nichols, Corporate Worship in the Reformed Tradition, 13. Ibid., 13. Much of traditional i.e., Catholic) theological terminology and concepts are truly part of the Lutheran approach as well as they were part of the Roman Catholic approach. Kenan B. Osborne,...

The Contribution Of Calvin And Company

Reformers John Calvin (1509-1564), John Knox (1513-1572), and Martin Bucer (1491-1551) added to the liturgical molding. These men created their own orders of worship between 1537 and 1562. Even though their liturgies were observed in different parts of the world, they were virtually identical.59 They merely made a few adjustments to Luther's liturgy. Most notable was the collection of money that followed the sermon.' Like Luther, Calvin stressed the centrality of preaching during the worship...

Four Stages Of Theological Education

Throughout church history there have been four stages of theological education. They are episcopal, monastic, scholastic, and seminarian (pastoral) Let's briefly examine each one Episcopal. Theology in the patristic age (third to fifth centuries) was called episcopal because the leading theologians of the day were bishops.' This system was marked by the training of bishops and priests on how to perform the various rituals and liturgies of the church.' Among them are Viola, So You Want to Start...

The Staggering Influence Of D L Moody

The seeds of the revivalist gospel were spread throughout the Western world by the mammoth influence of D. L. Moody (1837-1899). Properly conceived, the goal of preaching is not the salvation of souls. It is the birth of the church. As one scholar put it, Conversion can only be the means the goal is the extension of the visible church. Karl Muller, ed., Dictionary of Mission Theology. History, Perspectives (Maryknoll, NY Orbis Books, 1997), 431. Scholar D. J. Tifton has echoed the same thought...

The Funeral Dirge And Procession

Another form of music with pagan roots is the funeral dirge. It was brought into the Christian church in the early third century. As one scholar put it, The pagan cult of the dead was too much a part of the past lives of many Christians, formerly pagans, for them simply to be able to replace pagan dirges and funeral music with Psalmody.' During the days of Constantine, Roman betrothal practices and funeral processions were adapted and transformed into Christian funerals.22 This was borrowed...

Burden On The Poor

If a believer wishes to tithe out of a personal decision or conviction, that is fine. Tithing becomes a problem when it is represented as God's command, binding upon every believer. Strikingly, the Church of England did away with the tithe as a legal requirement as recently as the 1930s (Murray, Beyond tithing, 3-6). C. B. Hassell, History of the Church of God, from Creation to AD 1885 (Middletown, NY Gilbert Beebe's Sons Publishers, 1886), 374-392, 472 Smith, From Christ to Constantine, 123....

New Look At Your Identity

Our studies have shown that most Americans are struggling to clarify their identity. They tend to see themselves as unique individuals, Americans, members of their family, occupational professionals, consumers, and then as followers of Christ in that order of priority. In the minds and hearts of most Americans even those whose beliefs classify them as born-again Christians their identity as a follower of Christ pales in importance in comparison to the other roles they embrace. Oddly, most of...

Diluting The Waters Of Baptism

Most evangelical Christians believe in and practice believer's baptism as opposed to infant baptism.1 Likewise, most Protestants believe and practice baptism by immersion rather than by sprinkling. The New Testament as well as early church history stand with both of these positions.2 However, it is typical in most contemporary churches for baptism to be separated from conversion by great lengths of time. Many Christians were saved at one age and baptized at a much later age. In the first...

Exposing The Heart Of The Problem

The Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates taught that knowledge is virtue. Good depends on the extent of one's knowledge. Hence, the teaching of knowledge is the teaching of virtue. Herein lies the root and stem of contemporary Christian education. It is built on the Platonic idea that knowledge is the equivalent of moral character. Therein lies the great flaw. Plato and Aristotle (both disciples of Socrates) are the fathers of contemporary Christian education.1 To use a biblical metaphor, v...

Wrapping It Up

Is preaching and teaching the Word of God scriptural Yes, absolutely. But the contemporary pulpit sermon is not the equivalent of the preaching and teaching that is found in the Scriptures. It cannot be found in the Judaism of the Old Testament, the ministry ofJesus, or the life of the primitive church. What is more, Paul told his Greek converts that he refused to be influenced by the communication patterns of his pagan contemporaries (1 Corinthians 1 17, 22 2 1-5). But what about 1 Corinthians...

The Puritan Contribution

The Puritans were Calvinists from England. They embraced a rigorous biblicism and sought to adhere tightly to the New Testament order of worship. The Puritans felt that Calvin's order of worship n Hughes Oliphant Old, The Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship Zurich Theologischer Veriag, 1970 , 141-155. Calvin also took the posta postolic fathers as his model for church government. Hence, he embraced a single pastorate Mackinnon, Calvin and the Reformation, 81 . Nichols, Corporate Worship, 14....

Sunday School

The Sunday school is also a relatively recent invention, born some 1,700 years after Christ. A newspaper publisher named Robert Raikes 1736-1811 from Britain is credited with being its founder.' In 1780, Raikes established a school in Scout Alley, Gloucester, for poor children. Raikes did not begin the Sunday school for the purpose of religious instruction. Instead, he founded it to teach poor children the basics of education. Raikes was concerned with the low level of literacy and morality...

How Sermonizing Harms The Church

Though revered for five centuries, the conventional sermon has negatively impacted the church in a number of ways. First, the sermon makes the preacher the virtuoso performer of the regular church gathering. As a result, congregational participation is hampered at best and precluded at worst. The sermon turns the church into a preaching station. The congregation degenerates into a group of muted spectators who watch a performance. There is no room for interrupting or questioning the preacher...

The Sinners Prayer And A Personal Savior

As stated earlier, the sinner's prayer eventually replaced the biblical role of water baptism. Though it is touted as gospel today, this prayer developed only recently. D. L. Moody was the first to employ it. Moody used this model of prayer when training his evangelistic coworkers. But it did not reach popular usage until the 1950s with Billy Graham's Peace with God tract and later with Campus Crusade for Christ's Four Spiritual Laws.' There is nothing particularly wrong with it. Certainly, God...

Where Did The Protestant Order Of Worship Come From

Pastors who routinely tell their congregations that we do everything by the Book and still perform this ironclad liturgy are simply not correct. In their defense, the lack of truthfulness is due to ignorance rather than overt deception. You can scour your Bible from beginning to end, and you will never find anything that remotely resembles our order of worship. This is because the first-century Christians knew no such thing. In fact, the Protestant order of worship has about as much biblical...

The Origin Of The Worship Team

In many contemporary churches, whether charismatic or noncharis-matic, the choir has been replaced by the worship team. Such churches have sanctuaries that boast few religious symbols except possibly banners . At the front of the stage is a simple podium, some plants, amplifiers, speakers, and lots of wires. The dress is usually casual. Folding chairs or theater seats typically are used in place of pews. The standard worship team includes an amplified guitar, drums, keyboard, possibly a bass...

Ushers And The Collection Plate

Despite these problems, collecting tithes and offerings is now a part of almost every church service. How did the practice of ushers passing collection plates take shape This is another postapostolic invention. It began in 1662, although alms dishes and alms chests were present before then.' The usher originated from Queen Elizabeth I's 1533-1603 reorganization of the liturgy of the Church of England. Ushers were responsible for walking people to their seats in part to ensure that reserved...

Where Did The Christian Sermon Come From

The earliest recorded Christian source for regular sermonizing is found during the late second century.4 Clement of Alexandria lamented the fact that sermons did so little to change Christians.5 Yet despite its recognized failure, the sermon became a standard practice among believers by the fourth century.' This raises a thorny question. If the first-century Christians were not noted for their sermonizing, from whom did the postapostolic Christians pick it up The answer is telling The Christian...

What The Reformation Changed

During the Reformation, the break with tradition and clerical vestments was slow and gradual.' In the place of the clergy vestments, the Reformers adopted the scholar's black gown. It was also known as the philosopher's cloak, as it had been worn by philosophers in the fourth and fifth centuries. So prevalent was the new clerical garb that the black gown of the secular scholar became the garment of the Protestant pastor.' The Lutheran pastor wore his long black gown in the streets. He also wore...

Temples Priests And Sacrifices

Ancient Judaism was centered on three elements the Temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifice. When Jesus came, He ended all three, fulfilling them in Himself. He is the temple who embodies a new and living house made of living stones without hands. He is the priest who has established a new priesthood. And He is the perfect and finished sacrifice.' Consequently, the Temple, the professional priesthood, and the sacrifice of Judaism all passed away with the coming of Jesus Christ.' Christ is the...

Is Tithing Biblical

So, yes, tithing is biblical. But it is not Christian. The tithe belongs to ancient Israel. It was essentially their income tax. Never do you find first-century Christians tithing in the New Testament. Numerous Christians do not have the foggiest idea about what the Bible teaches regarding the tithe. So let's look at it. The word tithe simply means the tenth part.1 The Lord instituted three kinds of tithes for Israel as part of their taxation system. They are '...

The Reformers The Puritans And The Great Awakening

During medieval times, the Eucharist dominated the Roman Catholic Mass, and preaching took a backseat. But with the coming of Mar- The enthusiastic applause from an audience to a sophist's homily was a Greek custom. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 1938. Durant, Age of Faith, 65. Norrington, To Preach or Not, 23. Niebuhr and Williams, Ministry in Historical Perspectives, 71. Brilioth, Brief History of Preaching, 31, 42. Senn, Christian Liturgy, 366. Both Lutheran and Reformed preaching...

Constantine And Roman Hierarchy

The hierarchical leadership structure first emerged in ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Persia. It was later carried over into the Greek and Roman culture where it was perfected. Historian D. C. Trueman writes, The Persians made two outstanding contributions to the ancient world The organization of their empire and their religion. Both of these contributions have had considerable influence on our western world. The system of imperial administration was inherited by Alexander the Great, adopted by...

From Presbyter To Priest

Clement of Rome, who died in about 100, was the first Christian writer to make a distinction in status between Christian leaders and nonleaders. He was the first to use the word laity to distinguish them from the ministers. Clement argued that the Old Testament order of priests should find fulfillment in the Christian church. Tertullian was the first writer to use the word clergy to refer to a separate class of Christians. Both Tertullian and Clement popularized the word clergy in their...

The Contribution Of The Reformation

The major musical contribution of the Reformers was the restoration of congregational singing and the use of instruments. John Huss 1372-1415 of Bohemia and his followers called Hussites were among the first to bring both back into the church.-' Luther also encouraged congregational singing during certain parts of the service.' But congregational hymn singing did not reach its peak until the eighteenth century during the Wesleyan revival in England. In Reformation churches, the choir remained....

Most Sacred

Christianity did not destroy paganism it adopted it. WILL DURANT, TWENTIETH -CENTURY AMERICAN HISTORIAN And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. PAUL OF TARSUS IN 1 CORINTHIANS 2 4-5 WE NOW COME to one of the most sacrosanct church practices of all the sermon. Remove the sermon and the Protestant order of worship becomes in large part...

The Sermon And The Bible

Doubtlessly, someone reading the previous few paragraphs will retort People preached all throughout the Bible. Of course the sermon is scriptural Granted, the Scriptures do record men and women preaching. However, there is a world of difference between the Spirit-inspired preaching and teaching described in the Bible and the contemporary sermon. This difference is virtually always overlooked because we have been unwittingly conditioned to read our modern-day practices back into the Scripture....

The Origins Of The Choir

This all began to change with the rise of the clergy and the advent of the Christian choir, which dates back to the fourth century. Shortly after the Edict of Milan AD 313 , the persecution of Christians ceased. During Constantine's reign, choirs were developed and trained to help celebrate the Eucharist. The practice was borrowed from Roman custom, which began its imperial ceremonies with processional music. Special schools were established, and choir singers were given the status of a...

How The Pastor Damages Himself

The contemporary pastor not only does damage to God's people, he does damage to himself. The pastoral office has a way of chewing up Davies, New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy, 292. In this regard and contrary to popular opinion , the pastor is not the cerebellum, the center for communicating messages, coordinating functions, and conducting responses between the Head and the Body. He is not called to give authoritative communication of the truth from the Head to the Body. And he is not the...

Exegeting The Building

At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, So what's the big deal Who cares if the first-century Christians did not have buildings Or if church buildings were patterned after pagan beliefs and practices Or if medieval Catholics based their architecture on pagan philosophy What has Consider this next sentence The social location of the church meeting expresses and influences the character of the church.'' If you assume that where the church gathers is simply a matter of convenience, you are...

The Creation Of Sacred Spaces And Objects

In the late second and third centuries a shift occurred. The Christians began to adopt the pagan view of reverencing the dead. Their focus Some have argued that the pre-Constantine Christians were poor and could not own property. But this is false. Under the persecution of Emperor Valerian 253-260 , for example, all property owned by Christians was seized. See Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church Grand Rapids Eerd mans, 1910 , 2 62. L. Michael White points out that the early...

Major Influences On Worship

The advent of the church building brought significant changes to Christian worship. Because the emperor was the number one layperson in the church, a simple ceremony was not sufficient. In order to honor him, the pomp and ritual of the imperial court was incorporated into the Christian liturgy.' It was the custom of the Roman emperors to have lights carried before them whenever they appeared in public. The lights were accompanied by a basin of fire filled with aromatic spices.103 Taking his cue...

The Pentecostal Contribution

Beginning around 1906, the Pentecostal movement gave us a more emotional expression of congregational singing. This included the lifting of one's hands, dancing in pews, clapping, speaking in tongues, and the use of tambourines. The Pentecostal expression was in harmony with its emphasis on the ecstatic working of the Holy Spirit. What few people realize is that if you removed the emotional features from a Pentecostal church service, it would look just like a Baptist liturgy. Thus no matter how...

Many Adjustments No Vital Change

Our study of the liturgical history of the Lutherans sixteenth century , Reformed sixteenth century , Puritans sixteenth century , Methodists eighteenth century , Frontier-Revivalists eighteenth to nineteenth centuries , and Pentecostals twentieth century uncovers one inescapable point For the last five hundred years, the Protestant order of worship has undergone minimal change.' In the end, all Protestant traditions share the same unbiblical features in their order of worship They are...

Constantinefather Of The Church Building

While the emperor Constantine ca. 285-337 is often lauded for granting Christians freedom of worship and expanding their privileges, his story fills a dark page in the history of Christianity. Church buildings began with him. The story is astonishing. By the time Constantine emerged on the scene, the atmosphere was ripe for Christians to escape their despised, minority status. The temptation to be accepted was just too great to resist, and Constantine's influence began in earnest. In AD 312,...

From House Churches To Holy Cathedrals

The early Christians believed that Jesus is the very presence of God. They believed that the body of Christ, the church, constitutes a temple. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He made some radically negative statements about the Jewish Temple.' The one that angered many Jews most was His announcement that if the Temple was destroyed, He would build a new one in three days See John 2 19-21. Though Jesus was referring to the Temple that existed in the architectural sense, He was really speaking...

Exploring The First Church Buildings

Because the church building was regarded as sacred, congregants had to undergo a purification ritual before entering. So in the fourth century, fountains were erected in the courtyard so the Christians could wash before they entered the building. Constantine's church buildings were spacious and magnificent edifices that were said to be worthy of an Emperor. They were so splendid that his pagan contemporaries observed that these huge buildings imitated the structure of pagan temples. Constantine...