Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Doctrine of The Nicolaitanes

Was not named after a man called Nicolas.  The Nicolas of Acts 6 is mentioned in a positive context.  We don't need to go outside scripture to determine what this doctrine was, it's deduced from the etymology of the name.

Nico-, combinatory form of nīko, means "victory" in Greek, and laos means "people", or more specifically, "the laity"; hence, the word may be taken to mean "lay conquerors" or "conquerors of the lay people".

The name Balaam is perhaps capable of being interpreted as a Hebrew equivalent.  Balaam means "lord of the people".

It was early Church Fathers who were guilty of this sin like Victorinus of Pettau,  Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret who started claiming the name came from a person called Nicolas, and sought to identify it with various views they didn't like, particularity some form of "Antimonianism".

There are people out there who want to deny that the Pre-Nicean fathers were guilty of this.  JesusWordsOnly (which wants to label Paul a heretic) says it was only in Rome that monarchical church hierarchy existed prior to Constantine.  Their documentation that the the church services during this period didn't revolve around sermons is interesting to me as a House Church advocate.  But that is irrelevant to this issue.  Terullian (one of their favorites as he was blatantly Hostile to Paul in Against Marcion) clearly believed in the Heresy of Apostolic succession.  In Perscripiton Against Heretics Chapter 32.
"Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed."
Their claim that Paul supported Hierarchical Church Structure I believe is false.

So this website wants to blame Paul for hierarchical and monarchical church structure.  Yet they believe it only caught on in Rome.  Not in Asia Minor and Greece where he founded countless churches..

Some sources make it seem like in Asia Minor the churches founded by John had multiple elders and one bishop, while the ones founded by Paul had multiple elders who were all bishops.

Their premise is dependent on saying the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes only caught on in Rome, not in the Eastern Churches where they are specifically refereed to in Revelation.

In the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3, this heresy is brought up in two of them,  Only the church in Ephesus is commended for totally rejecting it (which happens to also be the one of the Seven with the strongest ties to Paul, being visited by Paul in Acts and the recipient of one of his epistles).

Only Pergamos is condemned for having them, but Pergomas is not one of the two worst over all, nor is Ephesus one of the two best, so your position on this doctrine is not the be all end all of being a good church.

Why is it seemingly irrelevant to the other five?  I have a hypothesis.  Let's use HIV as an allegory for the Nicolatian heresy. Only Ephesus was HIV Negative, completely free of it.  Only Pergamos had full blown Aids.  But the other five all had the illness to some degree, maybe in some it was more benign then others.

The Jesus Words Only movement is also an enemy of both Faith Alone and Eternal Security.  It's refreshing to see an enemy of Eternal Security admit Paul taught it.  And he doesn't even question Paulian Authorship of select Epistles (Besides Hebrews which they say based on their reverence for Tertullian was Barnabas).

This desire to blame the evil of organized religion and Eternal Security on the same source is totally illogical.  Just imagine a power hungry Pastor trying to pound into his flock a belief that they must be obedient and submissive to his pastoral authority to be right with God.  But he also teaches that no matter what they won't lose their salvation.  Wow, that'll sure keep em in line.  Many Pastors do do that, to me that just shows that you can get salvation right and still be wrong in other areas.  But the two notions do not logically go together.

Calvinists and Augustine and others who say Salvation can't be lost but don't teach assurance of Salvation, or "if you're really saved you won't".  That belief has the exact same effect on a believer as thinking Salvation is by works or can be lost, it's just a matter of semantics.

But this website thinks Paul taught Calivnism, apparently so did Tertullian, and maybe Marcion (I'm skeptical of just how accurately Marcion's critics presented his doctrine).  Paul refereed to "Predestination" but not the Calvinist understanding of it.  Paul clarified we are Predestined by the Foreknowledge of God in Romans 8:29, consistent with Peter in Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2.

Paul taught in his depiction of the Bema Judgment in Corinthians that some will receive no Rewards but still be saved.  It's clear elsewhere he considered not sinning one of those rewards.  He refereed to being afraid of losing his own rewards.  His response to Antimonian attitudes in 1 Corinthians 6 and Hebrews 6 was to warn of a loss of Inheritance, which Revelation 21-22 also alludes to, not all the Saved are in New Jerusalem, that is the Outer Darkness of Matthew.  Laodicea's problem was not a belief that Salvation couldn't be lost but a belief that their Reward couldn't be lost.  Romans 4 refers to him that worketh not but is still saved.

None of that is good for the 5th point of Calvinism, it's all material that Calvin and his followers are uncomfortable with and tend to avoid.  Everything people use to try and make it seem like Paul didn't teach Eternal Security, does prove he didn't teach Calvinism.

There is perhaps a variation of the fifth point that says it's only actual Apostasy a saved person can't commit.  Apostasy means "falling away", that's the term in Greek every time you see that phrase in the KJV of the New Testament.  I feel no matter which NT author is using it it's illogical to suggest any fake believer truly qualifies as apostasy.  So the existence of the term means it can happen.  Paul predicted it in II Thessalonians 2.  The issue is can you lose salvation from it?  Surely Paul doesn't think so.  But you can lose your inheritance.

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