96) The Corpse Church

Sardis

Around 612 BCE, the Assyrian Empire was conquered by the Neo-Babylon Empire. This opened up new horizons for the wealthy kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia, with its capitol at Sardis, which turned its attention from defending the eastern front to overrunning its western rivals, the Greek Ionian cities along the coast.

Lydian rulers, however, admired the Greeks and treated the Ionian cities leniently… Croesus, the last Lydian king, even paid for the construction of the temple of Artemis, which became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Thus, the Ionian coast city-states and the Lydians remained on peaceful terms with very tight cultural and commercial relations. Sardis was a centre for the traffic of goods and ideas between Mesopotamia and the Greek Ionian settlements, a crossroad of trade, and an ideal meeting point for the exchange of ideas, beliefs, customs, knowledge, and new insights. This rich exchange was one of the factors that, around 600 BCE, allowed the Ionian cities to turn into the intellectual leaders of the Greek world.

Cyrus II, King of Persia, invaded Sardis in 547 BCE…

Once Sardis was taken, the Persians also occupied the Ionian cities. About 500 BCE, the Ionian cities…declared their independence, triggering the Ionian revolt with the city of Miletus as the leading state, the first of many military conflicts between Greeks and Persians. A Greek army marched upon Sardis [as the capitol of the Persian province] and burned it to the ground…

the city surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE…

In 215 BCE Sardis was…made Seleucid’s administrative centre for the Anatolia region.

Sardis came under Roman rule in 133 BCE…and was the principal centre of a judicial district that included almost 30 Lydian and Phrygian settlements…made a provincial capital when Lydia was re-established as an administrative centre.

Tacitus reports an earthquake that affected the city in 17 CE:

That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in, such a disaster, by rushing out into the open country, for there people were swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said, collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and fires blazed out amid the ruin. The calamity fell most fatally on the inhabitants of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. (Tacitus, 2.47)

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. 

As we read the following account of Christianity in the generation of leadership immediately following John’s letter ~100 AD, we must take into account that this movement, so evidently falling away from biblical precepts, was developed, like Naziism, by the previous generation and passed down to the youth. In other words, as we read the beliefs held and propagated by the church at Sardis in ~140, we can see that they are the culmination of what John warned them was happening. “You have a name” – are famous – for being a vibrant source of life for the church, “but you are dead.”

Melito was a highly educated person, of illustrious origin, a „great luminary“ having remarkable retorical and prophetic abilities, who was chosento head the church of Sardis (aprox. AD 138-180)…

Melito is the first of the apologists who, in this acid polemics, openly accused the Jews of deicide, or put in other words he accused them of killing Jesus as incarnate God. According to him, they killed the One who created them, who honoured them, whom they confessed to and who called them Israel...They are responsible for every aspect of the crucification of Jesus, they got the nails ready that were supposed to perforate his limbs, they committed perjury against him, they had him drink vinegar and gall as if he were a thief, they had him whip-ped and they put a crown of thorns on his head, then sent him to death on the Great Celebration day. 

According to Melito, the relationship between Judaism and Christianity could be defined as follows: Judaism served the divine plans for a while, but after the Christ made himself manifest in the world as incarnate God, its existence  became futile and without any hope for the future. Judaism served as a model for the past ages, but with…the emergence of the Church, they replaced the law of Israel and Judaism…

Interesting. That idea was resurrected by fundamentalist Christians at the end of the 19th century.

Dispensationalist theory starts with the premise that the Jews have rejected Jesus and thus upset God’s original plan as outlined in the Scriptures. Thus God had to postpone the theocratic kingdom promised in the Old Testament until the end and then establish the church, something not predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures.

In this view the New Testament functions as a kind of plan B, put into effect because of the failure of the Old Testament’s plan A. For the Dispensationalist the Old Testament is the book of Israel, the book of the earthly kingdom and of the law, while the New Testament is the book of grace and the church. As a result, we find two peoples absolutely separated from each other: the one natural and earthly; the other spiritual and heavenly…

This systematic classification into specific dispensations contradicts the Hebrew/biblical view of revelation. It not only breaks the unity of the Scriptures by setting the New Testament in opposition to the Old Testament, but also does not conform to God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible. God certainly did not reveal Himself through elaborate theological systems or philosophical categories. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well the God of Paul, John, and Peter, has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity through history. The events of Creation, Exodus, the giving of the law at Sinai, and the return from the Exile are examples. In addition, the person of Jesus Christ–His supernatural birth, extraordinary life, and resurrection–all carry theological lessons of God’s revelation. Within the biblical perspective, theology derives from events, not the other way around. This principle of Hebrew thinking is important, for it allows revelation to be universal, thus transcending various cultures. More important, it prevents human extrapolation about God that may lead us astray…

Jesus and His disciples never intended to create a new dispensation, much less a new religion… “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets,” says Jesus. “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). The Greek word plerosai means literally “to fill to the full.” Instead of implying the annulment of the law, Jesus testified that He would “uphold” the law and make it blossom and mature. Later Paul argued the same point: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Even when Gentiles decided to join the Christian community, they submitted to the law. The passionate discussions reported in Acts 15 clearly testify to the importance of the law in their theological thinking. Even the conclusion of the debate, which might at first glance seem to suggest a liberation from the law, still remains within traditional Judaism. We find similar discussions among the rabbis, who adopted the same legal measures for Gentiles wanting to join the Jewish community.

Along the same lines, early Christians understood the coming of Jesus the Messiah within the context of the Old Testament prophecies, an interpretation that incidentally contradicts the Dispensationalist presupposition that the Old Testament has no connection with the New Testament. The first Christians regarded the First Advent as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. In fact, Jewish Christians used messianic prophecies as their main argument to prove to other Jews that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah promised in the Hebrew Scriptures. For a Jew to become a Christian did not imply rejection or ignorance of the Old Testament. On the contrary, it was on the basis of the Old Testament that as a Jew someone could recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Early Christianity remained within the confines of Israel, even after others began calling them “Christians” (Acts 11:26), a name that they did not choose for themselves. This designation seems to have come from the outside, bestowed on them by pagan Greeks or Romans, perhaps as a derogatory nickname. The Christians preferred to use other names for themselves, such as “disciples,” “brothers,” or “saints.” The non-Christian Jews used the Hebrew name Notzrim, or Nazarenes (from Nazareth), to designate the early Christians, whom they considered to be a Jewish sect (Acts 24:5). It is only much later, around the fourth century, after the Jewish-Christian separation, that the word minim (“heretics”) came to be associated with the word notzrim (“Christians”) in a curse intended to distinguish Christians from Jews.The history of early Christianity contradicts, therefore, the Dispensationalist claim of the necessary distinction between Israel and the church. Only later, through political turmoil and at the expense of theological compromise, did the church become a distinct entity apart from Israel…

The Dispensationalist dichotomy between Israel and the church and what these entities represent–namely, law and grace, Old Testament and New Testament–therefore blatantly contradicts the historical reality of Israel in the Old Testament, or the early church in the New Testament, as well as the theological teaching of all Scripture.

We should ask ourselves what could be the real cause of such a harsh reaction from the part of Melito of Sardis. The first explanation at hand could be that the relationship between the Jewish and the Christian communities in Sardis were very tense...By the middle of the 3rd century, the Jewish community in the city was attested as wealthy and prominent, counting nine city councillors…an indication of the high degree of social integration of the Jews in Sardis. The situation was similar in other cities…

Some researchers, like Reader Aasgaard, believe that the above mentioned passage of Melito represented a reaction of a tiny Christian community in Asia Minor, composed mostly of Jewish converts and their descendants…to…claim its own identity in…competition…with a highly powerful and influential Jewish community

Such kind of a competition was also demonstrated for the pagan…ethno-cultural environments…[which] contributed to the creation of a common religious phenomenology of this area, irrespective of the numerous local peculiarities…a melting pot where…influences from very heterogenous…Hittite, Luwian, Iranian, Lydian, Thracian, Celtic, Semitical, Egyptian, etc…

In brief, what this research paper is saying is that Christianity aligned itself with paganism against Judaism for political, economic and social benefits.

It is not well known that classical liberal thought has had a strong tradition within it of thinking about “class”, namely the idea that one group of people live off the labor and taxes of another group of people.

Religion in the most common and usual sense connotes dedication to a supreme being or beings…

But, especially in the last few centuries,“religion” has taken on the additional connotations of dedication to abstract principles or ideals rather than a personal being...

The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary widens the definition to include: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held with ardor and faith.” So in our day…even an atheist could say proudly, “Humanism is my religion…”

Religiously committed liberals…are characterized by unshakable faith in sanctioned [political] agendas…

1. Dogmas.The backdrop for the major dogmas of the religiously liberal are those of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment: that mankind must overcome religious superstition by means of Reason; that empirical science can and will eventually answer all the questions about the world and human values that were formerly referred to traditional religion or theology; and that the human race, by constantly invalidating and disregarding hampering traditions, can and will achieve perfectibility

whereas the traditional Christian understands Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is neither male nor female,” as extolling the new unity of disparate persons through unity in Christ, the liberal sees it, on the one hand, as wiping away all distinctions between the sexes in a sweeping egalitarianism, and on the other, as wiping away all salient distinctions between cultures (such as their values and morals) in a vapid celebration of “diversity” and “multi- culturalism.” Similarly, Matthew 7:1, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged,” no longer conveys the mandate of Jesus to leave the judgment of sinners to God, but instead sweepingly condemns “judgmentalism,” to the extent that one may not even judge whether something is a sin or not.

2. Sins. Yet, ironically, there are sins for the religiously liberal to eschew. In addition to judgmentalism, the most serious sins are racism, which does not simply mean failing to treat members of all races equally, but failing to show special preference for racial minorities; sexism, which does not mean treating members of both sexes with equal dignity, but making any differentiation between male and female roles; and “homophobia,” which does not simply cover unjust discrimination against persons with same-sex desires but also any judgment that such desires are disordered or that acting on them is sinful.

Intolerance is also a grave sin—except as regards Christian fundamentalism and the adherence of Catholics to the teachings of the magisterium. (Islamic fundamentalism, on the other hand, is considered a regrettablebut understandable Islamic reaction to the medieval Christian Crusades.) Public ridicule of Catholic dogmas, moral teachings, and the pope, as well as of fundamentalist Protestants are types of scapegoating and exorcism officially allowed by the standard of “political correctness.” Pro-life and pro-family movements can also be demonized as anti-liberal agendas emanating from these Catholic and Protestant religious sources. The vehemence of the denunciations may offer reliable testimony regarding one’s religious commitment to liberalism.

3. Scriptures. The “classical” scriptures of liberalism fall into two categories: Darwinist and scientistic writings championing materialist and naturalistic explanations for everything, including morals; and feminist writings exposing the “evil” of patriarchy and tracing male exploitation of females throughout history up to the present. For trustworthy day-to-day liberal exegesis of ideas and events, The New York Times stands out among newspapers, The Nation among magazines.

4. Priests and Priestesses. The sacerdotal elite are generally intellectuals with a literary or other media flair and an infectious enthusiasm for the liberal agenda. Exemplars include Stephen Jay Gould as a proponent of Darwinist explanations for life and Carl Sagan as a guru defending naturalistic explanations of the universe; Gloria Steinem as a pathfinder for abortion “rights” and other feminist issues; and dissident Catholics such as Garry Wills, Daniel Maguire, and Charles Curran, and their counterparts in certain Protestant denominations, who, as darlings of the liberal media, are always available to excoriate traditional Christian beliefs and morals.

5. Congregations. Over the past several decades, Democratic party leadership has made being pro-abortion a veritable requirement for credibility, and Democratic politicians have vied with one another in asserting their “pro-choice” credentials through such actions as opposing pro-life judicial nominees. Hence, religiously committed liberals gravitate almost exclusively towards the Democratic party for their political affiliation. Other abortion-centered organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, NOW, and the oxymoronic “Catholics for Free Choice,” also help supply a sense of affiliation and commonality for the religiously liberal.

6. Rites and Rituals. The most emphatic statements of liberal religiosity are directed against what is considered to be oppressive sexual morality. Like the ancient pagan mystery rites celebrating unrestrained sensuality in honor of the god Dionysius, “gay pride” parades are held to celebrate liberals’ liberation from traditional sexual morality. Similarly, pro-abortion groups, like ancient Aztecs and Mayans proudly offering child sacrifices to their gods, feel privileged to participate in the ongoing immolation of human fetuses…

7. Eschatology. The final goal is not concerned with an afterlife or the “last things,” but a this-worldly, and basically utilitarian, objective—the attainment of the greatest possible happiness by the greatest number here and now. In the estimation of the religiously liberal, all lifestyles and all moralities can approximate this goal, as long as the proscribed illiberal “sins” are avoided.

8. Saints and Martyrs. Margaret Sanger, although somewhat tainted in her day by racism, has been sainted as the founder of Planned Parenthood. Living saints include radical feminists such as Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, and Gloria Steinem, who have supplied spiritual inspiration for sisterhood. Kate Michelman, longtime head of NARAL, and Sarah Weddington, the attorney who won Roe v. Wade, are revered as pathbreakers for abortion “rights.” TV star Ellen De Generes attained reverential status by her courage in “coming out” as a lesbian, and the ordination of the openly homosexual Anglican bishop V. Gene Robinson has been construed as having prophetic significance. Larry Flynt is equally venerated for championing the production and consumption of pornography as a “free speech” issue.

Among the martyrs, Matthew Shepard has lost none of his luster despite the revelation that his 1998 murder was precipitated by a drug dispute rather than the sexual proclivities and practices of the victim. Other liberal martyrs include: (1) pre-Roe clotheshanger-aborted women (estimates of whose deaths have been based on the unreliable figures of Alfred Kinsey, and on the “5,000 to 10,000” deaths a year figure given as testimony by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who later admitted the figure was fabricated); and (2) those who have been forced to suffer because they live in jurisdictions that have not legalized assisted suicide…

Religiously committed liberals…are characterized by unshakable faith in sanctioned agendas—abortion on demand, with no restrictions or compromises; the abolition of all strictures, standards, and morals regarding consensual sexual behavior; the mainstreaming of same- sex relationships and legitimization of “gay marriage”; the prioritizing of AIDS research and treatment over other medical concerns…

It is ironic that those who most strongly denounce fundamentalism should prove to be such fundamentalists themselves. While they may constitute a minority of all contemporary liberals, theirs may be the dominant liberal voice in the public square.

This article was published in 2006. As of 2022 the religious liberal agenda has been accomplished. The Supreme Court’s decision on abortion just serves to increase their membership.

A majority of Americans disapprove of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade decision, which had guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion for nearly 50 years. Public support for legal abortion remains largely unchanged since before the decision, with 62% saying it should be legal in all or most cases.

Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided in their initial views of the court’s decision.

About eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (82%) disapprove of the court’s decision, including nearly two-thirds (66%) who strongly disapprove. Most Republicans and Republican leaners (70%) approve of the court’s ruling; 48% strongly approve…

Note, the court’s decision to overturn Roe doesn’t ban abortion. It simply gives the states the authority to set their own abortion policies. What is happening with the uproar against this decision is that the state-level democratic process is being overruled by the national-level agenda of elitists imposing their values on persons with widely divergent values. The states most affected – positively in terms of democratic process – are very obviously quite different from urbanized states in which lifestyles promote liberal views on sexuality and person responsibility: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

in the year 616 CE, Sardis’ life came to an end…that region fell to the Persians…and Sardis was sacked and devastated so completely that no attempt to restore the city has been recorded. This incident constitutes the end of Sardis’ civic life.

“If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 

This is obviously a warning – IF thou shall not watch, THEN I will come ON THEE AS A THIEF. This is not a good thing. However, Dispensationalists treat this as a promise to be rescued from having to suffer.

What is the Rapture?

Please note: the following paragraph cannot be supported from the Bible). The first will be a secret rapture—or carrying away of the saved to heaven—at the beginning of a seven-year period of tribulation, during which the antichrist will appear.

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments [by displays of hanging with the hip crowd]; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”

This warning applies to both the Dispensationalists and the Liberals.

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