NPNF1-11. Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans – Christian Classics Ethereal Library

John Chrysostom (349-407AD), Archbishop of Constantinople, is considered one of the three holy heirarchs by the Eastern Orthodox church, a saint of special honor. His homilies on Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, Colossians 2, and 1 Timothy 4 are must reads to understand the historical interpretation of these passages

 

Source: NPNF1-11. Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans – Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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Origen’s Commentary on Romans 14

Origen’s commentary on the book of Romans is hard to come by. We do not have the original greek; what we have is a Latin translation of it completed by Rufinus of Aquileia. But his translation strikes one as Origen’s work in style. It is very much an accurate translation.
Origen of Alexandria (184-253ad) was eventually condemned as a heretic by the Catholic Church, and although considered an early church Father, he was never considered a saint. He does have an extreme allegorical interpreting style, and was influenced by Gnostic thought… I wouldn’t do everything Origen does.. 🙂 Nonetheless, his commentary on the Book of Romans is a classic that is very valuable in studies of the history of the Christian church. I have selected the portion of his commentary on chapter 14, which is relevant to this blog topic. Again, this commentary is hard to come by… enjoy!

Highlights-
“Obviously he is saying through this that there should be no dissension among believers on account of foods”

“Resolve this, not to create stumbling blocks or hindrances for brothers through observance of foods. We have already spoken above about a stumbling block, or a hindrance. A hindrance is something found lying on the road on which one is traveling, against which the feet of the those climbing or going along strikes. This, then, is what they suffer who have only recently entered upon the road of faith. They stumble by the contentions, acts of negligence, contempt, and pride of those in front of them and, having been battered by their examples, they are turned away from the faith”

“For foods that God has created, when consumed either in ignorance or simplicity, were not able to make a human being common and unclean”

“But to him,” he says, “who thinks something is common, to him it is common”; that is, he who thinks something to be unclean as he reflects upon it in his heart and who admits the observance of the distinction, as he also says in what comes next, “But he who makes distinctions is condemned if he eats, because it is not from faith. ”

“Though he had defined by an apostolic dogma through the Lord Jesus that nothing should be considered common or unclean of its own nature, and though he had granted absolute freedom to the faithful in respect to the use of foods, on the other hand he trims back the license of freedom toward the edification of brotherly love ”

“But true observance exists when food is consumed in such a way and when all things are done in such a way that it may not be said of such persons, “Whose God is the belly.”380 For it is fitting to abstain from every food that desire and lust employ, that pleasures procure, that excess contrives. For we must not only pay attention to what sort of foods we use but also how much and at what time and how sparingly we use them. For this is how all things are clean to clean minds”

“Would you like to be taught more eminently still concerning clean and unclean things, that they are not said about bodies but about spirits and minds? … it is the thought and the mind that fail to perceive correctly what defiles the man, not the kind of foods…”

 

  1. Receive the one who is weak in. faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. One believes that he can eat all things; he who is weak eats vegetables.”

(2) Above, as well, the Apostle has mentioned weakness of faith where he says of Abraham, “Though he was nearly one hundred years old, he was not weak in faith.” In those passages we explained this weakness of faith with whatever was able to occur to US. But also, now he speaks about one who is weak in faith, whom he says is weak in that he does not believe he can eat all things, but his faith is so small that he considers that the only food appropriate for him is vegetables. This can seem to have been said to those who had believed from the Gentiles who were exalting themselves in the freedom of faith, whereby they were not believing that anything was common or unclean, in opposition to those who believed from the circumcision who were still observing the distinction of foods according to the tradition of the law, so that he would seem to be rebuking and admonishing them, to prevent them from insulting those for whom the long held custom of observing the distinction between foods was still causing a certain degree of hesitation.

(3) He is, therefore, commanding him who is weak in this faith in this way to be received instead and not to be rejected nor to be judged as an unbeliever. For it is one thing to be an unbeliever and something else to be weak in faith. For one who does not have faith is called an unbeliever; but one who hesitates in some aspect of the faith is weak in faith.

  1. So then, the Apostle brings the body of the Church together in peace and says: Let not him who eats despise the one who does not eat; and let not him who does not eat judge the one who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? He stands or falls to his own master; but he will stand; for the Lord is able to make him stand. Obviously he is saying through this that there should be no dissension among believers on account of foods. But Paul seems to have uttered these things with a still profounder meaning. For to those who come from the circumcision, the law did not command anything about eating vegetables that would seem to fit what he says, “He who is weak eats vegetables.” From this it is established that he is discussing these matters with respect to the food of the Word and he calls “weak in faith” him who is not so perfected in his senses that he can take in every kind of food of the Word of God, as the Apostle also says elsewhere, “Solid food is for the perfect, for those who have the senses trained for the ability of taking in, for distinguishing good from evil.” And again, he says to others, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet capable of it.” And shall we be so inept as to think that the Apostle, who was sent to proclaim the Word of God, carried milk with him that he was giving to the Corinthians to drink? But obviously he is declaring these things about the quality of the Word and therefore says: If anyone is weaker in senses and thus is not of perfect faith so that he would grasp the Word concerning the more concealed mysteries, he ought not be provoked to quarreling over opinions through these matters, which he cannot understand.

(2) He says, “For one believes he can eat all things.” Through these things Paul is not urging disciples to eat everything, nor is he a master of palate and throat. Instead he is doubtless speaking about those whose faith is perfect and is not hindered by any distinctions in the Word of God, about those whom elsewhere the same Apostle calls spiritual, when he says, “The spiritual man examines all things.” He, then, is the one concerning whom he says here, “One believes he can eat all things.” After all, the Lord was saying even to the apostles before they received the Holy Spirit, “I still have much to say to you; but you are not capable of hearing these things now. But the Paraclete will come, the Spirit of truth, and he will teach you all things.” These, then, are the “all things” that one who, because of the perfection of faith, has shown himself capable of the more concealed Word through the grace of the Holy Spirit believes he can eat.

(3) Nevertheless, even the weak has something to take in from the Word of God and it is a certain form of the Word that the Apostle has here called “vegetables,” which does not so much render the sense of the hearer robust and strong as sustain and keep from dying. For in many passages Holy Scripture speaks of the inner senses of the soul as of outer members of the body; and just as we have repeatedly taught that the inner man is described as seeing, hearing, and walking, so also now the inner man himself is said to be able to perceive in every food, if he is perfect, or to eat vegetables, if he is weak.

(4) But in order to create harmony between the perfect and the imperfect in the Church, between, as it were, the dishonorable and the honorable members in the body,”‘ and that there might not be any dissension among them, he says, “Let not him who eats despise the one who does not eat; and let not him who does not eat judge the one who eats.” This is what he also says elsewhere, “For the eye cannot say to the hand: You are not necessary to me; and the head to the feet: I do not desire your service. But, the members of the body that appear to be less honorable are much more necessary. And therefore, he is instructing those whose faith is so great that they could eat all things and receive every form of the Word not to become arrogant and despise those who are inferior; and on the other hand, he commands those who are incapable of more perfect doctrine not to judge those whose sense is more capacious and whose intellect .is more eminent. For, by a perverse arrangement, those who are inexperienced make it their habit to judge those. who are experienced, and the lazy judge those who are zealous. But sometimes even those who have received certain initial stages of knowledge become puffed up and exalted over against those who seem to be less capable.

(5) On that account, then, with a rebuke stemming from his apostolic authority, Paul reprimands the insolence of both parties and says, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? He stands or falls to his own. master.” What he says, “he stands or falls,” he says according to the thought of the one whom he is rebuking. For even the less experienced, if he sees anyone sensing something more profound, and that he himself is unable to take hold of it, he judges him to have fallen away from the state of faith. And on the other hand; those who are puffed up because of knowledge and who do not behave with love, as Paul commands, imagine similar things concerning those who are less experienced. And that is why he has taken away the right of a brother to judge his brother. He admirably says, “another’s servant,” for the Lord says, “You are all brothers.” “All,” that is, all creatures; and there is only one Lord, Christ Jesus, who is “Lord of all, rich toward all.” At the same time he also reveals the ineffable goodness of God when he says of him who seems to have fallen away, even if he may have truly fallen away, “God is able to make him stand.” For “the Lord raises up those who have been dashed down.”294

  1. The one judges alternate days; but another judges every day. Let each one be convinced in his own mind. We have said above that, according to the sequence of the apostolic letter, these things appear to be dealing with self-control and freedom in respect to foods. Because the calling that is in Christ acknowledges no foods as common or unclean, but thought of self-control persuades one to abstain even from things that are lawful. For it is not, as he himself says elsewhere, that because all things are lawful they are, therefore, likewise all beneficial or all edifying. Yet the reason for abstinence is diverse owing to a vow and the purpose of one who takes the vow. For one judges and distinguishes among the spirits in such a way that he demands abstinence every day, that is, during the continuous period of his life. But another pledges a certain period, as by the profession of a vow, in which he gives according to the senses of each one free opportunity, whether one should take up permanent or temporary abstinence. But he promises that both are borne and accepted by the Lord, and for this reason he goes on to say:
  2. 38. He who regards the day, regards it for the Lord; and he who eats, eats for the Lord; for he gives thanks to God; and he who does not eat, does not eat for the Lord and gives thanks to God. Thanks are returned to God by both; by the one on account of the benefit of self-control, by the other on account of the freedom to eat. But we showed previously that the Apostle’s meaning is found, by using a spiritual exposition, to be profounder than an account of material foods holds. In accordance with what we have dis-cussed above, concerning those for whom one judges every “day,” but the other judges alternate days, we can perceive the following: Every chapter in the Holy Scriptures in which the doctrine of piety and faith is contained may be called “day.” For it truly is day, because it enlightens the mind; because it puts the darkness of ignorance to flight; because it contains within itself Christ, who is the sun of righteousness. If there is anyone, therefore, who expends so much effort and study in the books of Holy Scripture that he investigates and distinguishes every “day” and every sense of Holy Scripture so that not a single jot or tittle of the law passes over him, he will seem to judge every day. But the one who is not so great in ability will grasp alternate senses, that is, a few from the many, and if not those that are sufficient for the fullness of knowledge, at least those that are adequate for the essence of faith. Both, then, should give thanks to God according to the Apostle’s counsel: the one because he regards every day and because he eats all things, i.e., because he recognizes and understands all things; and the other because, although he may not eat all things and grasp all knowledge, nevertheless he is saved by the brief confession of faith.303 And this is why even the one who does not eat all things and does not take in knowledge of everything is still said to give thanks to God.
  3. For none of us live to himself, and no one dies to himself; for if we live, we live to the Lord; f we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived, so that he might be Lord of the dead and the living.

(2) In the exposition of this epistle, we have repeatedly spoken about what it means to live in Christ and what it means to die in Christ. We did this especially in that passage where we attempted to explain the Apostle’s words in which he says, “But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with him.” If, then, we call to mind what was said in that passage, from those things the words the Apostle has set forth in the present passage will become clearer and more lucid, how none of us lives to himself and no one dies to himself. For no one provides a pattern of death for himself, but he takes it up from Christ, who alone has died to sin, so that he too, by imitation of him, can become estranged from sin and dead to it. Moreover, we do not have the pattern of life from ourselves, but we have received it from the resurrection of Christ, as the same Apostle says, “In order that, as Christ rose again from the dead through the glory of the Father, so also you might walk in newness of life.” So then, the newness of life by which we live in Christ through faith in his resurrection is attributed to the Lord, since it receives a commencement from him, not from us. And for that reason, “whether we live, we live to the Lord; whether we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” He calls “death” that by which we have died to sin, as we have said, having been buried together with Christ and baptized into his death. And he calls “life” that by which we have become estranged from this world and, as he himself says, we who are alive from the dead live not to ourselves, i.e., to the flesh, but to God, in accordance with what he adds in what follows. “For to this end,” he says, “Christ died and lived, so that he might be Lord of the dead and the living.”

(3) He says that Christ has died, doubtless by the dispensation of suffering; but he lived through the mystery of the resurrection. Whence also he has left a pattern for us, first of suffering and mortification, then later, as well, of resurrection and newness of life. But it may possibly trouble someone that the Apostle has said that the reason Christ died and lived was in order that he might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living, as if the one who gave this meant that unless he had died he would not have had lordship over the dead, and unless he had lived again after death he would not have held dominion over the living. But I think the following must be said in response to this. It is accepted that Christ’s dominion is over all creation in two ways. First, as the Creator of all things and bearing authority over all things, he holds all things under subjection by the force of his majesty and by the compulsion of power. In this way he exercises lordship not only over good and holy minds and spirits, but also over bad and apostate [spirits] and over those whom Holy Scripture has designated as evil angels. For it is on this account that he is also called “all-controlling,” or “Almighty,” according to what John depicts in the Apocalypse when he says, “These things says he who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” This, then, is one way in which Christ has dominion over all.

(4) But there is another by which, as the good and the Son of the good Father, he does not want to influence rational spirits toward obedience to his law by compulsion, but he waits for them to come of their own accord, to seek the good willingly and not by compulsion. And he would rather persuade by teaching than by commanding, by inviting rather than compelling. It is for this reason, after all, that he thinks it worthy to go to death, so that he might leave behind a pattern of obedience and a type of dying for those who are willing to die to sin and to the vices. And it is on this account that the Apostle writes in the present passage that the reason he died and lived was that he might be Lord over both the living and the dead; of the living, actually, those who, by the pattern of his resurrection, lead a new and heavenly life on earth; of the dead, doubtless, those who carry around the mortification of Christ in their own body and who put to death their own members that are on the earth.

4o. But if these things are so: As for you, he says, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? Though a mortification of the flesh and the vices has taken place within you, this has not arisen from yourself, but has been given by the death of Christ; if there is newness of life in you, and though you walk on earth you have your conversation in heaven, you merited this from the resurrection of Christ. He has admirably expressed the disgrace of the vice of both with a vernacular designation, saying to the one, “Why do you despise?” and to the other, “Why do you judge your brother?” For those who seem to have advanced a little in knowledge customarily despise and regard as nothing those who are less capable of higher understanding. On the other hand, those who are inexperienced and unteachable are accustomed to judging, i.e., to finding fault with and condemning those who research matters higher and deeper than they themselves are capable of grasping or reaching. And this is why the Apostle, wanting to cut off the fault arising from both sides, commands the one group not to despise and look down at the inferior; but he orders the others not to judge themselves superior, since they lack the skill of judgment. So then, although he rebukes both, both the one who despises the inferior brother and the one who judges the superior, still, in order to show that the one who passes judgment is sinning more seriously than the one who despises a brother, he leaves behind the fault of contempt and emphasizes the presumption over a brother who is judged.320 And this is why in what comes next he adds:

  1. 41. For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, because every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess to God.” So then, each of us will render an account for himself to God. Let us, therefore, no longer pass judgment on one another; but judge this instead, not to put a stumbling block or a hindrance321 to a brother.

(2) Taking up the reasons why those who are judging their brothers are not judging rightly, he introduces the model of God’s judgment, which is right and just, and he says, “For we must all stand before the judgment seat of God,” in order, obviously, that the one who is judging his brother might know what a great crime of arrogance he is falling into, that he should seem to assume the judgment seat of God and to forestall the judgment of the Only-Begotten. But let. us see why the Apostle decides [to use] what he speaks of as “the judgment seat of God” and how it should be interpreted.

(3) For not only in this passage, but also when writing to the Corinthians, no less, he mentions the judgment seat of God where he says, “Therefore, let us strive, whether present or absent, to please him. For all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive for what he has done through the body, whether good or bad.” Moreover, in [the book of] the prophet Daniel we find certain things recorded concerning the kind of judging [it will be]. “I was watching,” I he says, “and behold, seats were set in place, and the Ancient of Days was sitting and his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool. His throne was a flame of fire, his wheels a burning fire. A stream of fire was flowing before him. A thousand thousands were serving him, and ten thousand ten thousands were attending before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”

(4) Also in the book of the Twelve Prophets it is said under a mystery that in the valley of Jehoshaphat the Lord will judge his people. Shortly after this he calls the valley of Jehoshaphat the valley of judgment. But to discuss each of these things that we have brought forward for the sake of comparison would seem lengthy. Yet when we compare what we have said the Apostle has written to the Corinthians with the present passage, or with the other things we have recalled written in the prophets, from all these things we see that the judgment of God is certainly declared to come. So that its form might become more familiar to human beings, the model of judgment has been adopted from those matters that take place among human beings, obviously, in order that we might know that just as the earthly judge ascends to a certain higher place, which is called the judgment seat, so that from there he might be higher and more eminent than the others who are to be judged, lest the supplications of the defendants or the legal petitions of the innocent escape his notice; thus we should understand also that Christ, the judge of all, by nature and majesty more eminent than all else, looks into the hearts and consciences of each one and manifests secrets and reveals things that are covered up, both so that he may bestow praise for good actions and so that the evil might receive the punishment they deserve.

(5) But if there remains a future judgment of God, and a judgment of such a nature that not only will each receive for his own actions, but also according to the Lord’s declaration an account will be rendered for every idle word, even the evil thoughts will be put to silence by the accusing conscience, and in all these matters each of us will render an account for himself to God. “Let us therefore,” he says, “no longer pass judgment on one another”; as he also says elsewhere, “And so, do not judge anyone before the time, until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the secrets of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of hearts; and then each one will have praise from God.” For in my opinion our heart will be laid bare before the entire rational creation, and its secrets will be revealed, or even manifested.

(6) For there is a difference. For what is revealed seems to pertain to evil persons, concerning whom it is said, “For it will be revealed with fire.” The things that are manifested, on the other hand, pertain to the good. And that is why it is said, “For everything that is manifested is light.” And like books that have been written or tablets that have been inscribed, containing the written records of our actions and thoughts, they will be read, as we have said, by every rational creature. And I believe that this is what is indicated by Daniel when he says, “And the books were opened”; namely, those that are now rolled up and covered in our heart, containing the writings of what we do. They are etched in a certain alphabet of the conscience, yet are fully known to no one except God alone. So then, these books of our soul or pages of our heart will be opened in the presence of the throne of fire and the wheels of blazing fire and the river of fire that flows before the Ancient of Days. Even the angels will see these things and read them, and the thousand thousands of angels and the ten thousand ten thousands of attendants. And so, for our crimes in which now we are disconcerted to allow even one witness, then we shall have to endure the innumerable throngs of the heavenly powers as witnesses.

(7) But since Paul says, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God”; and since he associates himself with those who will stand before God’s judgment seat, who then is so self-deceived and misled that he imagines that he is not going to come to the judgment of Christ and to the judgment seat of his knowledge? Or who would not think that, for what he has done, whether rightly or even less rightly, he is going to be manifested? Personally, I do not think there is any difference between what he calls, in the present passage, “the judgment seat of God” and what he has recorded, When writing to the Corinthians, “the judgment seat of Christ.” The “judgment seat of Christ” and the “judgment seat of God” are identical terms, according to what the Savior says in the Gospels, “All that the Father has is mine”; and again, “Father, all that is mine is yours and all yours is mine.”

(8) If, however, someone thinks that the reasons for this variation in the words of Paul need to be investigated, since his writings do not contain one syllable that is superfluous, he could possibly say something like this: The name “Christ” is a designation pertaining to his unique character as the Word who was placed in flesh, and is a sign of the one who reconciles the world to God, just as the same Paul says, “For in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.” But the postponement of our conversion and the negligence of our amendment lengthen out the periods of this reconciliation and make them longer. And until he renders all rulers and powers null and void and places the enemies under his feet and destroys the last enemy, death, he has to reign, in this way so that he might bring into effect the mystery of the dispensation he has taken up in the flesh and manifest the good on the one hand, and the blameworthy, that they may receive, each according to his own works. But when he will have handed over the kingdom to God, even the Father, i.e., when he has presented all who have been converted and amended as an offering to God and has completely fulfilled the mystery of the reconciliation of the world, at that time, they are now said to stand before the judgment seat of God, so that what follows might be fulfilled, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will be bowed before me and every tongue will confess to God.”

(9) Now every creature will bow its knee before God at the name of Jesus, through whom it has been reconciled to him, according to what the same Apostle says, “For at the name of Jesus will bow every knee of the heavenly, earthly, and infernal [beings] .” Obviously the Apostle has taken the statement that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to God from the words of the prophet Isaiah. Yet this is not to be interpreted in a fleshly way, so that we should imagine that even the heavenly beings that he says bow their knee should be believed to do this with fleshly limbs. Are we to think, for instance, that the sun and the moon and the stars, and even the angels and whatever heavenly beings there are that might be named, worship while they are stooped over on their bodily knees? Or are we to suppose that they likewise confess to God with tongues of flesh and with that organ with which we humans speak; these beings of whom it is said that they are spirits and fire according to what the prophet says, “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers burning fire”? And what knees are we to believe spirits have, or what tongue is to be looked for in the form of fire? Instead, “to bow the knee” is declaring that all things are subjected and are obedient to the worship of God.

(10) Still, I am troubled by these things that we have taken from the letter to the Corinthians, where he says, “So that each might receive his own for what he has done in his body, whether good or evil.” Has he said that each one would receive both good things for his goods and evil things for his evils because in all human beings it is necessary for there to be some good and some evil? Nor are any found among the good who do not have some evil as well, or alternately, among the evil who do not have something good as well, on account of the Scripture that says, “For an incorruptible spirit is in all things.” Or is he calling the good those to whom no evil should be ascribed, and the evil those to whom absolutely nothing good should be owed? But if we should think the latter, we shall appear to run contrary to plain reason. For as I have said, no one will be found who is so good that there is no unjust act of evil in him, as seems to be quite easily concluded from the examples of many saints. And, on the other hand, there is no one so bad, even if Judas himself be considered, who was impious beyond all impiety, that even he seems not to have some good. For when I overlook the things he was doing while he was among the apostles, as one of them, although even there even the evils were already mixed with his good deeds—for he was greedy for money—nevertheless the very fact that he was led by penitence to return the thirty silver pieces to the priests and said, “I have sinned by betraying just blood,”355 was something good.

(11) From all of which it seems to me that one and the same person cannot receive goods and evils simultaneously—for neither can anyone be sent at the same time to paradise, or into the kingdom of heaven, and into Gehenna— only in those in whom the evils had weighed excessively heavier is the reckoning of good not held; and in those in whom good deeds had weighed heavier, and in whom the repentance of conversion has obliterated the traces of the evils is the reckoning of evil not received.

(12) But that we may go back to the end and conclusion of the proposed section, since, he says, the truth of the judgment before God and before his Christ is so great, since the dragnet of the future examination will be so great he says, “Let us, therefore, no longer pass judgment on one another; but judge this instead, not to put a stumbling block or hindrance to your brother.” “Judge this,” that is, Resolve this, not to create stumbling blocks or hindrances for brothers through observance of foods. We have already spoken above about a stumbling block, or a hindrance.356 A hindrance357 is something found lying on the road on which one is traveling, against which the feet of the those climbing358 or going along strikes. This, then, is what they suffer who have only recently entered upon the road of faith. They stumble by the contentions, acts of negligence, contempt, and pride of those in front of them and, having been battered by their examples, they are turned away from the faith.

  1. I know and am confident in the Lord Jesus that nothing is common through itself except to him who thinks something is common, to him it is common. For if your brother is grieved for the sake of food, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not by your food cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. Do not, therefore, let your good be slandered. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteous-ness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For the one who serves Christ in this is pleasing to God and has been approved by men. And so, let us follow what pertains to peace and what pertains to edification among one another Do not for the sake of food destroy the work of God.

(2) We have said in other passages as well that in the Holy Scriptures what is not holy or clean is called common by a kind of vernacular designation. This designation, however, is more frequent in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament I do not recall if it is recorded anywhere.362 In the Gospels, for example, the Savior says, “For from the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, fornications, adulteries, thefts, false testimonies; and these are what make a man common. But to eat. with unwashed hands does not make a man common.”

(3) Although in many copies the Latins have rendered communicare [make common] with coinquinare [defile], and granted that the force may be the same, nevertheless the strict rendering of the word has “make common.” Moreover, in the Acts of the Apostles the Lord says to Peter, “What God. has cleansed, you should not call common.” I think, then, that the source from which this usage of the word has been derived is, for example, that the vessels of the temple that were set apart for service were called, doubtless, vessels of the Lord. But the other vessels were called common to distinguish them from these. In a similar way, in order to distinguish the foods that Scripture has set apart as clean and lawful to be eaten, all the rest have been called common. The Jews, however, being ignorant of the force of the word as to why a man whom they were accustomed to name as common should be called com mon, have held fast to the usage of the word with no understanding of its significance. For foods that God has created, when consumed either in ignorance or simplicity, were not able to make a human being common and unclean: But that human mind that has been set apart to God alone may deservedly be called clean; but the one that is estranged from God, because it is possessed not by one spirit but by many, on that account such a man is called common, as one who is a slave to many vices or demons, according to him who, when he was asked, “What is your name?” answered, “Legion; for we are many”; and according to what is said by the Savior, “When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it wanders through water-less places looking for rest. And finding none it returns and when it finds the house vacant, swept, and cleaned, it takes along seven other spirits more wicked than itself; and they enter and live in him.” It is hardly to be doubted that a man of that sort is called common, obviously because he has become a slave of all those evil spirits that live in him.

(4) Justly, then, knowing that this is the meaning of this word, Paul says, “I know and am confident in the Lord Jesus that nothing is common through itself.” For none of the things God has created is unclean of its own nature—for it is an established fact that everything created by the good God is good and clean. “But to him,” he says, “who thinks something is common, to him it is common”; that is, he who thinks something to be unclean as he reflects upon it in his heart and who admits the observance of the distinction, as he also says in what comes next, “But he who makes distinctions is condemned if he eats, because it is not from faith. For everything that is not from faith is sin.” Yet in these things, he has not excluded the distinction of the law, as though he were saying categorically that nothing of those things that the law has designated as unclean is common or unclean. For he has first told the reason why nothing should be called common through itself. “I know,” he says, “and am confident in the Lord Jesus.” In the Lord Jesus, then, nothing is said to be common “through itself,” that is, of its own nature; “but to the one,” he says, “who considers and who thinks something is common, to him it is common.”

(5) And you should not be surprised that the reflection of the mind makes food defiled that, of its own nature, is neither common nor defiled, though, on the contrary, simplicity of mind and the absence of scrupulosity of reflection, once every suspicion of contamination has been cast aside, absolves truly defiled food—for what is sacrificed to idols is truly defiled. And, again, even if the food is clean, nevertheless someone may come under suspicion, as would be the case when what has been sacrificed to idols is said to be defiled on account of a scrupulous conscience. “For if your brother is grieved for the sake of food, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not by your food cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.”

(6) Though he had defined by an apostolic dogma through the Lord Jesus that nothing should be considered common or unclean of its own nature, and though he had granted absolute freedom to the faithful in respect to the use of foods, on the other hand he trims back the license of freedom toward the edification of brotherly love and he says: Even though nothing is common and the use of all foods is freely conceded, nevertheless, if, for the sake of food that you consider to be lawful to eat, you cause your brother to stumble, who is not yet capable of this knowledge, you are no longer walking according to love nor are you showing in yourself the disposition of brotherly love. For what harm does it do you if, in order not to grieve your brother, you should abstain even from what is lawful? Surely there is no crime in your abstaining from what is lawful; but to him who makes distinctions in these matters and who considers them unlawful, use is defiled. “For the one who makes distinctions is condemned if he eats.” But if you should do [such a thing], assuredly you cause the ruin of your brother for whom Christ died, and you procure the causes for his destruction.

(7) But this same Paul speaks more eminently of these matters when writing to the Colossians: “Therefore, do not let any one judge you in matters of food or drink or in the matter of festivals, new moons, or a Sabbath. These are only a shadow of future things, but the body is Christ’s. Do not let anyone seduce you, insisting on self-abasement of heart and the religion of angels that he has seen, while being vainly exalted, being puffed up by his fleshly mind and not holding fast to the head.” And after a few words, “If then you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as those who live in this world, do you make distinctions: Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch? All these things lead to corruption by their very use in accordance with the precepts and teachings of men, which have indeed a reckoning of wisdom in the observance of religion and in the self-abasement through the severe treatment of the body, [but they are] not with any honor for the gratification of the flesh.” It is not a matter for the present work to discuss all these things in detail; for we are now attempting to explain what the Apostle is writing to the Romans.

(8) Nevertheless, what is being asserted in the present instance as well is a pattern: In connection with food or drink or outward observances of this sort, which are reckoned among the Jews as the religion of angels, we should not be judged by anyone. For they exalt themselves in these things that are seen, and they are puffed up over visible things. But this elation does not accord with the wisdom of the Spirit. but with the sense of the flesh. It is not concerning fleshly matters that it has been commanded, “Do not handle, do not touch, do not taste.” For all these things, i.e., fleshly things, have been given for this corruptible use, and what observance of purity can consist in corruption? The law prescribed these things concerning rational matters that, if they are unclean, truly are not to be touched or tasted, lest they should make us partakers of sin and of its uncleanness, abandoning the precepts of men and of doctrine. Yet they have transferred this spiritual sense to these fleshly and bodily matters that have a reckoning of wisdom in the observance of religion and the self-abasement of the body, but not when, on the occasion of observance of this sort, some honor among men and pleasures of the flesh are sought, while many select foods are sought out, for the sake of abstaining from a few.

(9) But true observance exists when food is consumed in such a way and when all things are done in such a way that it may not be said of such persons, “Whose God is the belly.” For it is fitting to abstain from every food that desire and lust employ, that pleasures procure, that excess contrives. For we must not only pay attention to what sort of foods we use but also how much and at what time and how sparingly we use them. For this is how all things are clean to clean minds; but to the defiled, as the Apostle says, and to the unbelieving nothing is clean.

(10) In this he is showing that even in respect to the foods that are named clean among the Jews, if anyone is defiled and unbelieving, they could not be clean to him. It will therefore follow that if things that are clean become unclean to those who are defiled, even things that are called unclean may become clean to the holy and to believers. “For they are sanctified through the Word of God and prayer, since all of God’s creation is good and nothing is to be rejected that is received with thanksgiving.“ But they are not sanctified through the prayer of anyone, but of those who lift up “pure hands without wrath and argument.” Would you like to be taught more eminently still concerning clean and unclean things, that they are not said about bodies but about spirits and minds? Listen to the statement of the Lord and Savior himself in the Gospel when he says, “It is not what enters the mouth that makes a man common, but what proceeds from the mouth; because from within, out of the heart, come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, etc.” Therefore, it is the thought and the mind that fail to perceive correctly what defiles the man, not the kind of foods, which may be of whatever kind and with one and the same outcome will satisfy a use of corruption. And no wonder if he sanctifies for Saints food that he consumes with the Word of God and prayer, seeing that even the garments with which he is clothed are holy. After all, Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons had received such great sanctification from his purity that when they were brought to sick bodies they were expelling diseases and restoring health. Now what should I say of Peter? Even the shadow of his body bore so much sanctification that whomever not he himself but only his shadow touched as he walked by was immediately alleviated from every infirmity.

(11) But we have digressed rather extensively from the discussion about clean and common foods in order to consider the Apostle’s meaning more deeply, as far as this is possible. But being mindful of the brevity we stipulated,389 let us bring this ninth book to its conclusion and commence the opening of the tenth and last book.

 

THE TENTH BOOK OF THE COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS

THEREFORE DO NOT LET your good be reviled. For the, kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For whoever serves Christ in this is pleasing to God and approved by men.

(2) I ask how our good can be reviled. It is good to understand the law spiritually and to avoid as unclean and defiled foods the godless and absurd doctrines of the heretics and of those who are zealous for false philosophy. For this is what is decreed by the spiritual law. But suppose, for example, anyone from the Jews or those called the Encratites3 would like to believe in Christ, but he thinks that it is a matter of no small importance to observe self-control either in respect to their foods, which are prohibited by the law, or those that, as many think, must be rejected even by the authority of the Scriptures since they are opposed to chastity. Now if you put pressure on such a person to [take] foods that are common to everyone, and you tell him that otherwise he cannot be saved and cannot attain to the faith and grace of Christ, unless he consumes these foods from which he has fled, then truly the good of spiritual knowledge will be reviled, as he whom you are pressuring thinks that this faith is held among us, that we believe that no one can be saved except the one who eats swine flesh or other common and neutral foods of this sort.

(3) But to these things he adds, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Once again I passionately admire the wisdom of Paul, who keeps in check the faults of the present time by the authority of the future mystery and, as he establishes a model for the Church, he reveals the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. He says, therefore: What need is there to disturb fraternal peace and love so greatly for the sake of foods and the kinds of things we eat since the kingdom of God, for the sake of which we labor and strive, is established neither through foods nor through drink but these things are foreign to the kingdom of God and to that future way of life? For there, just as “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels of God,” so they consume neither food nor drink, but they are like the angels of God. Consequently, by an absolutely clear dogma and by an unambiguous declaration from the Apostle, it has been settled that in the kingdom of God bodily food and drink have no place, but righteousness and peace in the Holy Spirit. And he therefore urges that we train ourselves in these things and prepare here and now to have these goods and to possess that substance that can pass with us into the kingdom of heaven: peace and righteousness and if there are things of this sort that are procured through the Holy Spirit.

(4) These will be our food and substance in the kingdom of God. And, therefore, through these things he is teaching that care must not be exhibited over matters of bodily foods, which will be null in the future, but over the virtues, which would continue with us both in the present life and in the future kingdom of God.5 And this is why he says, “For the one who serves Christ in this is pleasing to God and approved by men.” This is what he says in another passage about himself, “Just as I also please everyone in everything, not seeking what is useful to myself, but what [is useful to] many.” For it is for this reason, even though he was an Apostle of Christ, that he became a Jew to the Jews, no doubt in order that by pleasing the Jews he might save them; and to those who were without law, he himself also became without law, so that by pleasing them he might save them.

(5) Now he speaks of pleasing men not thus, by falling in with their vices, but by enduring their weaknesses with patience. But let us not leisurely pass over even this that he says, “For he who serves Christ in this,” i.e., in the Holy Spirit, “is pleasing to God and approved by men.” To serve Christ in the Holy Spirit he is saying in accordance with what he also says elsewhere, “No one says, Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit.” Paul himself serves Christ in the Spirit, then, since, having received the grace of the Holy Spirit, he serves God the Word, he serves wisdom, he serves righteousness and all the virtues at the same time, which Christ is declared to be. And therefore whoever fulfills the will of God according to the word that he himself pronounced saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to him!” is said to please God in these things. Whoever, therefore, listens to God and serves Christ, in whom God is pleased, pleases God and is approved by men.

  1. And so, let us pursue the things of peace and the things of mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God on account of food.

(2) He said above, “Pursue hospitality,” and here in a similar way, “Let us pursue the things of peace and the things of mutual edification.” And just as we showed there the manner in which hospitality is to be pursued, so also here we should understand how peace is to be pursued. For David too in like manner says, “Seek peace and pursue it.” Though the Latin manuscripts have “follow it,” nevertheless “pursue” is also written there. To me what appears to be made known in this is the following. Peace, he says, flees from human beings, as it were, when it has been disturbed and driven out by many who behave insolently and disruptively; in contrast, those who have learned Christ and serve him should pursue the peace that is fleeing and to call it back by every possible means. But he pursues peace who guards the things by which peace can be established, even with his own effort, with loss, with reproach too and, if necessary, even with danger to life and reputation. For these things preserve not only peace but also mutual edification. For he is edified who sees you seeking not merely what is beneficial to yourself but also what is beneficial to others. And in this way the edifice of the faith grows and the temple of God rises up from living stones, through the construction of love. And this is why he adds, “Do not destroy the work of God on account of food.” For he destroys the work of God and demolishes the edifice of love who, on account of immoderation with foods, places a stumbling block before brothers.

  1. All things are clean, but it is evil to the man who eats through an offense. It is good not to eat flesh and not to drink wine nor in what your brother is offended.

(2) What he has said, “All things are clean, but it is evil to the man who eats through an offence,” is similar to what he said above: “for nothing is common through itself, except to him who thinks something is common, to him it is common.” So then, according to their nature and the definition of creation, where everything that exists has been made by God, all things are clean, and there is nothing unclean or what is called common. He set down two reasons for which things that are clean may become unclean or things that are good may become evil. For in the present passage he says, “But it is evil to the man who eats through an offence.” Therefore, what is good of its own nature becomes evil because of the offence, i.e., because the brother is offended when you use these foods in which he experiences a stumbling block. There is another reason why that which of its own nature is not unclean becomes common or unclean: If anyone who deems it so in his own eyes thinks that it is common. So then, only to the one who thinks it so, does it become common or unclean. Clearly from these things the Apostle is teaching that uncleanness and defilement consist not in things or in essences, but in actions and thoughts less right. Although the law of Moses indicated that certain things were clean and certain things were unclean, in which he wanted to lay down certain distinctions so that the people who were being assessed under the law would seem to be distinguished from the other nations through observances of this sort, as long as that people was considered to be holy and separated from the other nations a distinction of clean and unclean things seemed likewise necessary, a distinction that would separate and distinguish God’s special people from the nations that the ignorance of God and the worship of idols were making unclean.

(3) But when the door of faith is opened to the nations and all are invited to God, all four-footed beasts and creeping and flying creatures are shown to Peter exposed in a sheet that had been let down from heaven and it is said to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!” Because he was mindful of legal observance, he responded to the Lord and said, “Never, Lord, because never has a common or unclean thing entered my mouth.” But by a heavenly pronouncement it is declared, “What God has cleansed, you should not call common.” So then, where all nations are cleansed from defilement through the knowledge of the faith, there also all food is purified by the word of the Lord and prayer. And on this account the Apostle says, “All things are clean”; only that that should be avoided whereby he records in what follows that the things that are clean should not once again become unclean to the one who eats through offending a brother.

(4) But what he now appends, “It is good not to eat flesh and not to drink wine,” would possibly seem contrary to what he had said earlier, had he not added, “nor in what your brother is offended.” For he has taught that eating or not eating flesh, or drinking or not drinking wine, is deemed neither evil nor good but neutral and indifferent. For even an evil man or a stranger to the faith is able not to eat flesh and not to drink wine, as it is certain many frequently do for the sake of idols. Occasionally it is reported that such an observance is kept even in the evil arts. Certainly, to observe these things is customary for not a few of the heretics, and we shall not immediately say: It is good for them that they do not eat flesh or drink wine. But clearly it truly is good not to eat flesh and not to drink wine that is no longer neutral or indifferent in that manner in which he has set forth in what follows, “in what the brother is offended.” For it is good not to put an offence or stumbling block before a brother. For on this account he also says elsewhere, “Be without offense, both to Jews and to Greeks and to the Church of God.” And let them see, therefore, if they are acting properly who, by every means, compel those who, for whatever reason, abstain from tasting flesh and wine, obviously in order for the suspicion to seem to be removed through this, [a suspicion] by which they are scrupulously thought to be clinging to the distinctions of foods.

(5) For surely they should pay attention to the fact that the Apostle has not said: It is good to eat flesh and to drink wine, but not to eat flesh and not to drink wine, if a brother is offended in this. So then, he did not want that, for the sake of those who judge that something is to be eaten, one who is offended by this should be compelled to eat; but, for the sake of the one who does not think something should be eaten, he orders even those who judge that it should be eaten to abstain. For surely it has to be feared lest perchance, once the wall of self-control has been broken down and license has been adopted, one might be sunk in the storm of gluttony and in the depths of excess and the shipwreck of chastity might follow in like manner. Therefore, everything ought to be done so that the work of God is not destroyed; and for that reason as well, one should eat if a brother is edified in this; and one should not eat if the work of God grows by this means; and one should drink, if by this means a brother makes progress in the faith; and one must not drink if, on this account, either you should incur a loss of love, or your brother, a forfeiture of faith.

  1. After these things he says: The faith that you have, have as your own before God. Here he is referring to that faith by which someone believes he can eat all things, as he said above, “One person believes he can eat all things”; doubtless, he who believes that nothing in God’s creation is common, that nothing is unclean. But it is sufficient for you, he says, to have such faith before God. Another person, however, even a stranger, must not on that account be compelled so that he would eat all things, he who does not yet have such faith that he believes that all things are to be eaten. But what he says, “Have it as your own,” curtails boasting, lest what we believe should lead to ostentation rather than virtue. But he has added, “Have it before God,” in order to show that it is enough for us to act, not that our faith be slandered among men, but that it be approved before God. It is much to have a faith that is approved before God. For before God even the faith of the apostles is judged small; this is why it is said to Peter, “[Oh you] of little faith, why did you doubt?” On that account, then, he is truly great whose faith is approved before God.
  2. Blessed is the one who does not judge himself in what he approves, But he who makes distinctions is condemned if he eats because this is not from faith. But all that is not from faith is sin.

(2) Anyone is called blessed not merely if he does things that are appropriate, but also if he does not do things that are inappropriate; as, for example, he is called blessed “who does not depart to the advice of the wicked”; and he is no less blessed “who walks in the law of the Lord.” The one is blessed then because “he does not walk in the way of sinners,” the other because he walks in the way of God. So also in the present passage the Apostle says, “Blessed is the one who does not judge himself in what he approves.”

(3) But let us consider of whose work that blessedness might be. There are many who approve to do something good; for instance, those who, when they hear about the rewards for chastity, approve and resolve to live chastely; but with the passing of time, as either negligence sneaks in unawares or as lust gains the upper hand, that which they had approved as something to be observed is defiled and corrupted. And he is wretched, who was conquered in what he had determined to observe, and he judges and condemns himself. But blessed is the one who continues so fixed and constant in what he approves and has resolved upon, that in no respect he judge himself and in nothing does he find fault. But he is saying this even in the observance of foods, according to the rule that he had composed above, that if anyone who, through the knowledge of the spiritual law, approves all things to be eaten and that all things are clean, he should not once again judge himself and hesitate as to whether he ought to consume or not. For the one who makes distinctions in this manner, i.e., the one who doubts whether what he is consuming is truly clean or unclean, he himself on the basis of the very doubt of his own mind, is condemned, as his conscience accuses. He sets forth the reason for this condemnation too, when he says: because it is consumed not out of faith but out of doubt. And after these things he makes a general pronouncement over all [situations] when he says, “But all that is not from faith is sin.”

(4) With this statement he binds the negligent and slothful souls of these believers with a shorter chain, that they should do nothing without faith, say nothing apart from faith, and think nothing apart from faith; for you are sinning whether you have done, or spoken, or even thought something without faith. This is precisely what he says elsewhere, “Wheth-er you eat or drink or whatever else you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

(5) But someone may ask whether even the heretics should be believed to do the things they do from faith, since they do it according to what they believe; or, since the faith among them is null, all that they do should be pronounced to be sin, because it is not from faith. And I think what they possess is to be called credulity rather than faith. For just as false prophets are occasionally called prophets, by a false name, and false knowledge is called knowledge, and false wisdom is improperly called wisdom, so also the credulity of the heretics is called faith by a false name.”56

(6) For this reason one should consider whether perhaps even if what seems to be done among them as a good work is converted into sin, since it is not from faith, as was also said concerning a certain someone, “Let his prayer become sin.” Sometimes there is even a chastity that is not from faith, namely that of those “who pay attention to deceitful spirits and to teachings of demons, speaking by false hypocrisy, having a seared conscience, forbidding marriage and abstaining from foods, which God created.”58 Then false also is the faith of those who have “suffered a shipwreck in respect to the faith.” There is also a false wisdom, namely, that of this world and of the rulers of this world, a wisdom that will be destroyed.”

(7) For just as during the dark of night pirates make it their custom to kindle lights in shallow places at sea, among hidden rocks, so as to invite sailors to the shipwrecks of destruction under the hope of taking refuge in a safe harbor;”61 so also the light of false wisdom and false faith is kindled by the rulers of this world and by the spirits of this air, not through which men might escape, but through which they perish, as they navigate the waves of this world and the sea of life. It was concerning these pirates, I think, that even Job was saying, “The arrows of his pirates have come over me.” And surely it was also on this account that the Apostle himself says, “For even Satan himself transforms himself as an angel of light.” For that reason, then, those of us who navigate the waves of this life ought not to believe every light, i.e., every [kind of] wisdom; but, as the Apostle warns, [we ought to] test which spirits are from God.” And this is why we ought to implore the Lord’s help unceasingly and to hope that he will rescue us from the snare of the hunters” so that we might also say, “Our soul has been snatched like a bird from the snare of hunters; the snare was smashed and we were set free. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

 

 

Footnotes (I have removed redundant footnotes to make for easier reading)
Book IX
294. Ps 345.14. Here there seems to be another hint of Origen’s belief in a universal restoration.

  1. In Origen’s theology, the brief confession of faith is absolutely indispensable to attain salvation, complete faith is more, complete knowledge is still more. Cf. Heither in Origenes, Commentarii, 5:126 n. 84, and Schelkle, Paulus, Lehre); p. 78.
  2. The Migne text reads, “brother who judges.”
  3. Offensio vet scandatum.
  4. Mt 27.3-4. For other statements denying Judas’s total depravity, cf. Gels 2.11; Comm in, z 32.12; Comm in Gant 3.15.

356 Cf. 7.19.8-9, where stumbling block is interpreted in a positive sense, as something that comes through Jesus Christ and hinders men (like Paul) from continuing on the wrong road.

  1. Scandatunz. 8J9.Cf.1Tm4.1.
  2. Scandentium.

362 Cf. 3.2.6; 8.8.3 n. 189. The LXX consistently uses “profane” or “unhallowed,” not “common,” for things that are unholy and impure, as in Lv 10.10. Cf. TDNT 3:791.

  1. We recall that it was Rufinus’s intention to abbreviate the Cantmenlary. Cf. Preface of Rufinus (2).

Book X

  1. The word is transliterated from the Greek, “self-controlled.” According to Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.28.1 (ANF 1:353), the Encratites rejected marriage and the eating of flesh; they also denied Adam’s salvation. Their originator was Tatian (110-72), a disciple of Justin (110-65) who evidently feII into this heresy after his master’s death. Cf. Cels 5.65; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.29.
  2. For the linguistic distinctions referred to here, cf. 4.9.6 n. 322. Cf. Prine 1.2.13; Comm in. Cant Prologue 2.
  3. 1 Tim 4.1-3. Marcion’s followers are intended. Cf. 9.2.10 n. 64.
  4. The port of Alexandria, Origen’s home city, was well known for its sub-merged rocks that made for a narrow and difficult passage for mariners. On one side of the harbor was an island called Pharos, on which was built the famous lighthouse. Cf. josephus, War of the Jews 4.10.5.
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Drunkenness

Proverbs 28:7- The one who keeps the law is a discerning child, but a companion of gluttons brings shame to his parents.

1 Cor 6:10… “drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of God”…
Does this include a person who uses recreational cannabis? Let’s test the evidences.
Consider a person on his deathbed, who is being administered morphine. Is that going to have an intoxicating effect on his mind? Absolutely! And, if drunkenness speaks directly to the effects that substances have on our minds, wouldn’t that person be deemed a “drunkard”?
ok, so we make an exception and say “for medical uses it’s ok. It’s the recreational use that constitutes a drunkard.”
But let me ask; does our Bible read “drunkards, excepting for medical use, shall not inherit the Kingdom of God” ?

No, it does not. If “drunkenness” is defined by an intoxicated or altered state of mind, that’s explicit. There is no exception. If an impaired mind defines the “drunkard”, it is sin, whether it’s a guy using an intoxicating medicine on his deathbed, or the guy who has a few beers, or a guy who consumes cannabis. There’s no “grey area” when dealing with sin. God does NOT look upon sin. It is as black and white as it gets.
So then, how do we reconcile this inconsistency?

Do we say that, the Christian who has served faithfully his whole life, and then at the end of his life, fell short because doctors administered morphine to him and made him a drunkard and is now hopelessly lost forever? Of course not.

And, if we make an exception for an intoxicated mind in the case of medical use, why then not for recreational use? And if we cannot make an exception for recreational use, then we also cannot make exception for medical use. The Scriptures are explicit. The drunkard shall NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. There’s no watering it down. There’s no “grey area”. If it’s a sin in one case, it’s a sin in the other as well.
See what I’m getting at? We’re missing something here…
And herein is what I suspect we’re missing; we have forgotten what the meaning of what a “drunkard” is. Drunkenness speaks of far more than simply an intoxicated or altered state of mind. David Wilkerson once preached “The Bible mentions many ways of being drunk: with fury, with bitterness, with bloodthirstiness. The main alcohol in our society—the sedative that most people drink from today—is prosperity. And Christians indulge freely in this drink.”

From TDNT-

The fundamental difference between early Christian fullness of the spirit and the orgiastic enthusiasm of Hellenism is indicated in Eph. 5:18. The life and liturgy of Christians are not marked by sensual ecstasy or Bacchantic frenzy (μεθυσκεσθαι οινω) but by infilling with the Spirit (πληρουσθε εν πνευματι). The distinction could hardly be more succinctly expressed: orgiastic enthusiasm on the one side, and on the other the fullness of the Spirit which finds liturgical expression in praise and thanksgiving (5:18-20) and practical expression in αγαπη (5:21- 6:9). In this respect Paul emphasizes explicitly that the fact that  μεθυσεσθαι is not the result of αγνωσια, as the Hermetic writings and Philo suppose, but of ασωτια, i.e. a corrupt and profligate nature.

Basically what that speaks to is our lack of self- control, our overindulgence in things, whether it be alcohol, cannabis, anger and wrath, etc etc. Our excessive use and a failure to bring our minds and bodies into subjection; the things that pull us away from a sober lifestyle.
Lifestyle. That speaks to the heart of it as well. One cannot live the lifestyle of a drunkard and still maintain right legal standing before the Father. And whatever it is that we overindulge in expresses that lack of sobriety and self control coming out of our hearts. Remember, the Biblical history is one long protest against conceiving of sin in an external fashion. When Christ said “it is not what goes in the mouth that defiles a man” he was speaking to the fact that sinful acts have their roots in the heart. Drinking too much wine or using too much cannabis or being excessively angry or stressed, eating too much food… all of these speak to a drunkenness that has it’s root in the heart. “Profligate nature”. Gluttony. Excess. Lack of self- control. These are the things that define a drunkard as Paul used it in scripture.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The word drunk in koine greek has that literal, inebriated sense, and almost always in greek litertature. But the Christian sense as Paul used it goes deeper than the external expressions. The Christian sense of the word takes it to the heart.
John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking. They called him demon possessed. Christ came eating and drinking. They called him a “glutton and a drunk”.
Does consuming cannabis cause you to live a profligate life? It’s not the cannabis. It’s not the alcohol. It’s not the anger. It’s not the candy bars, or whatever it is that moves you in a self destructive, overindulging behavior. That profligate nature is already in your heart. It’s just being evidenced through these things.

Just a rough draft here, but “drunkenness” should not be defined by the Christian by a “buzz”. We can’t. That makes the guy on his deathbed taking morphine a drunkard, when in fact using that mind altering substance is the sober thing to do. We’ve got to dig deeper, and take it to the condition of our hearts.

I’ll clean this up when I can. But I wanted to get this out there for you all to think on a bit.

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Justice Department phasing out private prisons: America’s mass incarceration disaster has become a surprisingly bipartisan rallying cry — Quartz

Source: Justice Department phasing out private prisons: America’s mass incarceration disaster has become a surprisingly bipartisan rallying cry — Quartz

Ephesians 6:12- “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens,”

There is one more area of insight into the work of the powers among men which needs to be considered: the strategy of supernatural evil in manipulating human institutions and social structures to work evil among humanity. Walter Wink is the Champion of this more socio-cultural institutional view of spirit evil. He says that we must see Paul including here in 6:12

‘all the archai and exousiai… not only divine but human, not only personified but structural, not only demons and kings but the world atmosphere and power invested in institutions, laws, traditions and rituals as well, for it is the cumulative, totalizing effect of all these taken together that creates the sense of bondage of a “dominion of darkness” (see Col. 1:13) presided over by higher powers.

Wink holds the kosmokratoras to include all who hold mastery over the world, the spirit of empire, and

“all forms of institutional idolatry, whereby religion, commerce, education, and state make their own well-being and survival the final criteria of morality, and by which they justify the liquidation of prophets, the persecution of deviants, and the ostracism of opponents”

Wink continues saying that it is the “suprahuman dimension of power in the institutions and the cosmos which must be fought, not the mere human agent “ The institution will perpetuate itself no matter who the human agent “because that is what the institution requires for it’s survival” Finally, he says that it is “this suprahuman quality which accounts for the apparent ‘heavenly’ bigger than life, quasi-eternal character of the powers”

(Handbook for Spiritual Warfare, by Dr. Ed Murphy) 

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[10] Chief Points of Gnosticism

-two sides of the same counterfeit coin-
(6) “The teaching, on the one hand, of asceticism as the means of attaining to spiritual communion with God, and, on the other hand, of an indifference which led directly to licentiousness.”

[10] Chief points of gnosticism from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Chief Points in Gnosticism:
The following may be regarded as the chief points in the characteristics of the Gnostic systems:
(1). A claim on the part of the initiated to a special knowledge of the truth, a tendency to regard knowledge as superior to faith, and as the special possession of the more enlightened, for ordinary Christians did not possess this secret and higher doctrine.
(2) The essential separation of matter and spirit, the former of these being essentially evil, and the source from which all evil has arisen.
(3) An attempt at the solution of the problems of creation and of the origin of evil by the conception of a Demiurge, i.e. a Creator or Artificer of the world as distinct from the Supreme Deity, and also by means of emanations extending between God and the visible universe. It should be observed that this conception merely concealed the difficulties of the problem, and did not solve them.
(4) A denial of the true humanity of Christ, a docetic Christology, (which looked upon the earthly life of Christ and especially on His sufferings on the cross as unreal.
(5) The denial of the personality of the Supreme God, and the denial also of the free will of man.
(6) The teaching, on the one hand, of asceticism as the means of attaining to spiritual communion with God, and, on the other hand, of an indifference which led directly to licentiousness.
(7) A syncretistic tendency which combined certain more or less misunderstood Christian doctrines, various elements from oriental and Jewish and other sources.
(8) The Scriptures of the Old Testament were ascribed to the Demiurge or inferior Creator of the world, who was the God of the Jews, but not the true God.
Some of these characteristic ideas are more obvious in one, and some of them in others of the Gnostic systems.

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[9] Sufficiency of the Scriptures

Holy Spirit will NOT empower obedience to laws that do not have the Lord’s approval from Scripture

[9] Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology
The Sufficiency of the Scripture
#5. With regard to the Christian life, the sufficiency of the Scripture reminds us that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by scripture either explicitly or by implication. To walk in the law of the Lord is to be “blameless” (Ps. 119:1). Therefore we are not to add prohibitions to those already stated in scripture. From time to time there may be situations in which it would be wrong, for example, for an individual Christian to drink Coca-Cola, or to attend movie theaters, or to eat meat offered to idols (see 1 Cor. 8-10), but unless some specific teaching or some general principle of Scripture can be shown to prohibit these (or any other activities) for all believers for all time, we must insist that these activities are not in themselves sinful and they are not in all situations prohibited by God for his people.
This also is an important principle because there is always the tendency among believers to begin to neglect the regular daily searching of Scripture for guidance and to begin to live by a set of written or unwritten rules (or denominational traditions) concerning what one does or does not do in the Christian life.
Furthermore, whenever we add to the list of sins that are prohibited by Scripture itself, there will be harm to the church and to the lives of individual believers. The Holy Spirit will not empower obedience to rules that do not have God’s approval from Scripture, nor will believers generally find delight in obedience to commands that do not accord to the laws of God written in their hearts. In some cases, Christians may earnestly plead with God for “victory” over supposed sins that are in fact no sins at all, yet no “victory” will be given, for the attitude or action in question is in fact not a sin and is not displeasing to God. Great discouragement in prayer and frustration in the Christian life generally may be the outcome.
In other cases, continued or even increasing disobedience to these new “sins” will result, together with a false sense of guilt and a resulting alienation from God. Often there arises an increasingly uncompromising and legalistic insistence on these new rules on the part of those who do follow them, and genuine fellowship among believers in the church will fade away. Evangelism will often be stifled. For the silent proclamation of the gospel that comes from the lives of the believers will at least seem (to outsiders) to include the additional requirement that one must fit this uniform pattern of life in order to become a member of the Body of Christ.

 

– remember, that Christians in Colossae were being alienated from the Churches by the same “touch not, taste not, handle not” commands of the Gnostics that we experience today over the issue of cannabis consumption. –
from footnote [5]
1. Colossians: -In col a great deal is said regarding a false teaching, an insidious theosophist doctrine, the teachers of which were alienating the Christians in Colosse from the gospel, and were disseminating their speculations, which led to the worship of angels in contrast to the worship of Christ, to esoteric exclusiveness wholly opposed to the universality of the gospel, and to an asceticism injurious to Christian freedom, and derogatory to the human body as indwelt by the Holy Ghost. These tenets are identical with the more fully developed Gnosticism of the generation succeeding that of the apostles; and at the root of the Colossian false teaching there lay the same error which the Gnostic mind had no way of meeting, namely, that there could be no connection between the highest spiritual agency, that is God, and gross corporeal matter.
-This ascetic tendency is wonderfully widespread; it reappears century after century, and shows itself in many forms of religion, not merely in distorted forms of Christianity
-In the Epistle to the Colossians, accordingly, there are definite references to ascetic practices which were inculcated by the false teachers at Colosse. The very terms which they employed have been preserved, “Touch not,” “Taste not,” “Handle not.” It was in this way that these teachers had “at their own hand” invented a worship different from that of the Christian faith, which endeavored to attain the deliverance of the soul by “the neglecting of the body” (Col 2:21,23 the King James Version). These Gnostic teachers showed these tendencies still more boldly when Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy, for he describes them as “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats”

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[8] Colossians 2:16-23

old- time bar-crashing Carrie Nation was captured by demons, just like the Gnostics of the second century, whom Paul warned us of in 1st Timothy chapter 4-

It is one thing to abstain from food and drinks of your own free will, for that is your liberty to abstain. It is an entirely different story to command the conscience of another
-and get this-, examples of rage and violence coming out of the loveless core of asceticism, from Carrie Nation to the prisons and the war on drug users, are just one side of this counterfeit coin-there is also a lawless, immoral, licentious, antinomian development that arises in response to these influences. [I would add here that I have a strong feeling that’s what we (those of us who frequent this group) here need to be watchful of; licentious and immoral living, rebellion and contention]
And it’s just like the Scripture says… touch not taste not handle not have an appearance of wisdom, but it’s a worldly wisdom, and in reality results in fleshly indulgence;
-that is, a fleshly indulgence akin to a two-sided, counterfeit coin; whether it’s Carrie Nation and her violence against the consumers of alcohol, or the one who rejects her unnatural teachings and command over his life, with a knee- jerk “I’m gonna drink it all now!” failure to give attention to the Lord’s instruction.

Oh, and the real coin? We’re not on a tightrope where we can fall off into an ungodly asceticism or antinomian lifestyle, that’s what the enemy wants you to believe. Don’t take your eyes off the Cross and what Christ accomplished for us… our Salvation! Follow the Lord from the very bottom of your heart mind soul and strength, we’re not on a tightrope when the Grace of Jesus Christ is a Rock and a solid Foundation under our feet!

Footnote [8]
Colossians (NET)
2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days – 2:17 these are only 33 the shadow of the things to come, but the reality 34 is Christ! 35 2:18 Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths 36 about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. 37 2:19 He has not held fast 38 to the head from whom the whole body, supported 39 and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God. 40

2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits 41 of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? 2:21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” 2:22 These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are 42 on human commands and teachings. 43 2:23 Even though they have the appearance of wisdom 44 with their self-imposed worship and false humility 45 achieved by an 46 unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence. 47

==============

33 tn The word “only,” though not in the Greek text, is supplied in the English translation to bring out the force of the Greek phrase.

34 tn Grk “but the body of Christ.” The term body here, when used in contrast to shadow (σκιά, skia) indicates the opposite meaning, i.e., the reality or substance itself.

35 tn The genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ (tou Cristou) is appositional and translated as such: “the reality is Christ.”

36 tn For the various views on the translation of ἐμβατεύων (embateuwn), see BDAG 321 s.v. ἐμβατεύω 4. The idea in this context seems to be that the individual in question loves to talk on and on about his spiritual experiences, but in reality they are only coming out of his own sinful flesh.

37 tn Grk “by the mind of his flesh.” In the translation above, σαρκός (sarkos) is taken as an attributive genitive. The phrase could also be translated “by his sinful thoughts,” since it appears that Paul is using σάρξ (sarx, “flesh”) here in a morally negative way.

38 tn The Greek participle κρατῶν (kratwn) was translated as a finite verb to avoid an unusually long and pedantic sentence structure in English.

39 tn See BDAG 387 s.v. ἐπιχορηγέω 3.

40 tn The genitive τοῦ θεοῦ (tou qeou) has been translated as a genitive of source, “from God.”

41 tn The phrase κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (kata ta stoiceia tou kosmou) is difficult to translate because of problems surrounding the precise meaning of στοιχεῖα in this context. Originally it referred to the letters of the alphabet, with the idea at its root of “things in a row”; see C. Vaughn, “Colossians,” EBC 11:198. M. J. Harris (Colossians and Philemon [EGGNT], 93) outlines three probable options: (1) the material elements which comprise the physical world; (2) the elementary teachings of the world (so NEB, NASB, NIV); (3) the elemental spirits of the world (so NEB, RSV). The first option is highly unlikely because Paul is not concerned here with the physical elements, e.g., carbon or nitrogen. The last two options are both possible. Though the Gnostic-like heresy at Colossae would undoubtedly have been regarded by Paul as an “elementary teaching” at best, because the idea of “spirits” played such a role in Gnostic thought, he may very well have had in mind elemental spirits that operated in the world or controlled the world (i.e., under God’s authority and permission).

42 tn The expression “founded as they are” brings out the force of the Greek preposition κατά (kata).

43 tn Grk “The commands and teachings of men.”

44 tn Grk “having a word of wisdom.”

45 tn Though the apostle uses the term ταπεινοφροσύνῃ (tapeinofrosunh) elsewhere in a positive sense (cf. 3:12), here the sense is negative and reflects the misguided thinking of Paul’s opponents.

46 tc ‡ The vast bulk of witnesses, including some important ones (א A C D F G H Ψ 075 0278 33 1881 Ï lat sy), have καί (kai) here, but the shorter reading is supported by some early and important witnesses (Ì46 B 1739 b m Hil Ambst Spec). The καί looks to be a motivated reading in that it makes ἀφειδία (afeidia) “the third in a series of datives after ἐν, rather than an instrumental dative qualifying the previous prepositional phrase” (TCGNT 556). At the same time, the omission of καί could possibly have been unintentional. A decision is difficult, but the shorter reading is slightly preferred. NA27 puts καί in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

47 tn The translation understands this verse to contain a concessive subordinate clause within the main clause. The Greek particle μέν (men) is the second word of the embedded subordinate clause. The phrase οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινι (ouk en timh tini) modifies the subordinate clause, and the main clause resumes with the preposition πρός (pros). The translation has placed the subordinate clause first in order for clarity instead of retaining its embedded location. For a detailed discussion of this grammatical construction, see B. Hollenbach, “Col 2:23: Which Things Lead to the Fulfillment of the Flesh,” NTS 25 (1979): 254-61.

 

see “Gnosticism” from the ISBE.
1. Colossians: -In col a great deal is said regarding a false teaching, an insidious theosophist doctrine, the teachers of which were alienating the Christians in Colosse from the gospel, and were disseminating their speculations, which led to the worship of angels in contrast to the worship of Christ, to esoteric exclusiveness wholly opposed to the universality of the gospel, and to an asceticism injurious to Christian freedom, and derogatory to the human body as indwelt by the Holy Ghost. These tenets are identical with the more fully developed Gnosticism of the generation succeeding that of the apostles; and at the root of the Colossian false teaching there lay the same error which the Gnostic mind had no way of meeting, namely, that there could be no connection between the highest spiritual agency, that is God, and gross corporeal matter.
-This ascetic tendency is wonderfully widespread; it reappears century after century, and shows itself in many forms of religion, not merely in distorted forms of Christianity
-In the Epistle to the Colossians, accordingly, there are definite references to ascetic practices which were inculcated by the false teachers at Colosse. The very terms which they employed have been preserved, “Touch not,” “Taste not,” “Handle not.” It was in this way that these teachers had “at their own hand” invented a worship different from that of the Christian faith, which endeavored to attain the deliverance of the soul by “the neglecting of the body” (Col 2:21,23 the King James Version). These Gnostic teachers showed these tendencies still more boldly when Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy (see below), for he describes them as “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats”

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[7] Liberty of Conscience

Liberty of conscience. When Scripture commands, “therefore, let no man judge you with respect to food and drink…” and our culture seeks to do that very thing, follow God. Stay true to what you really believe to be true!

 

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittel, Friedrich)

Conscience – “SUNEIDESIS”  Highlights

-No less than 8 of the 14 passages in Paul are concentrated on the issue of idol meats.

-Paul means something more comprehensive than a subsequent bad conscience

-Not to be defined as a power of religious and moral evaluation or the like which can be detached from man; it is man himself aware of himself in perception and acknowledgement, in willing and acting

-When dealing with the strong and weak in R. Paul can use PISTIS (faith) instead of SUNEDESIS

-[The following is also well stated by John Chrysostom in his homily on Romans 14] Members of the Congregation who are weak because they are used to idols have not yet won through to the liberating acknowledgement of the truth that they themselves are known and acknowledged by the one true God beside whom there are no other gods but only created things, v.3,7. They are thus threatened at the very heart of their being when as the weak they try to achieve the insight of the strong, v.7, 10f. But because Christ died precisely for the weak (v.11) the strong should know and acknowledge a weak self-awareness better than the weak themselves can do, v. 13. For the self-awareness which condemns itself there is thus set up a liberating boundary from without…

-For the strong the true perception of the freedom established in Christ carries with it a demand that they should accept the weak… this does not imply that the strong might be hurt by the reproaches of the weak, for their freedom is not subject to the judgment of others., v.29a b. What it does imply is that the strong, in the freedom they have on the basis of grace, should not lead the weaker brethren astray, wounding their conscience and thus bringing themselves into ill repute, v. 29a, 30.

-Paul can make positive statements about conscience which are not to be found in the world around. The self-consciousness based on God can be sure of itself in a good and positive sense. Thus Paul can glory in the witness of his conscience which has confirmed that he has walked in holiness and integrity… even though the verdict of conscience is positive, it is not an autonomous verdict, but one which is based on God’s Word.

-Paul takes SUDENESIS with a comprehensive breadth and variety not found in any of his predecessors. For him it is no longer just the popular bad conscience or the Hellenistic-Jewish ELEGXOS. It has now become the central self-consciousness of knowing and acting man. With few exceptions it had never been anything like this before in literature.

-The whole complex is encircled and held together by the new thing which Paul connects with the idea of conscience- he declares that man is acknowledged by the one true but gracious God in Jesus Christ.

 

Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer,
“Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments (since I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils alone; it being evident that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the word of God: I can not and will not recant any thing, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do any thing against the conscience.”
(Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church)

 

§ 56. Reflections on Luther’s Testimony at Worms.

Luther’s testimony before the Diet is an event of world-historical importance and far-reaching effect. It opened an intellectual conflict which is still going on in the civilized world. He stood there as the fearless champion of the supremacy of the word of God over the traditions of men, and of the liberty of conscience over the tyranny of authority.

For this liberty, all Protestant Christians, who enjoy the fruit of his courage, owe him a debt of gratitude. His recantation could not, any more than his martyrdom, have stopped the Reformation; but it would have retarded its progress, and indefinitely prolonged the oppressive rule of popery.

When tradition becomes a wall against freedom, when authority degenerates into tyranny, the very blessing is turned into a curse, and history is threatened with stagnation and death. At such rare junctures, Providence raises those pioneers of progress, who have the intellectual and moral courage to break through the restraints at the risk of their lives, and to open new paths for the onward march of history. This consideration furnishes the key for the proper appreciation of Luther’s determined stand at this historical crisis.

Conscience is the voice of God in man. It is his most sacred possession. No power can be allowed to stand between the gift and the giver. Even an erring conscience must be respected, and cannot be forced. The liberty of conscience was theoretically and practically asserted by the Christians of the ante-Nicene age, against Jewish and heathen persecution; but it was suppressed by the union of Church and State after Constantine the Great, and severe laws were enacted under his successors against every departure from the established creed of the orthodox imperial Church. These laws passed from the Roman to the German Empire, and were in full force all over Europe at the time when Luther raised his protest. Dissenters had no rights which Catholics were bound to respect; even a sacred promise given to a heretic might be broken without sin, and was broken by the Emperor Sigismund in the case of Hus.

This tyranny was brought to an end by the indomitable courage of Luther.

Liberty of conscience may, of course, be abused, like any other liberty, and may degenerate into heresy and licentiousness. The individual conscience and private judgment often do err, and they are more likely to err than a synod or council, which represents the combined wisdom of many. Luther himself was far from denying this fact, and stood open to correction and conviction by testimonies of Scripture and clear arguments. He heartily accepted all the doctrinal decisions of the first four ecumenical Councils, and had the deepest respect for the Apostles’ Creed on which his own Catechism is based. But he protested against the Council of Constance for condemning the opinions of Hus, which he thought were in accordance with the Scriptures. The Roman Church itself must admit the fallibility of Councils if the Vatican decree of papal infallibility is to stand; for more than one ecumenical council has denounced Pope Honorius as a heretic, and even Popes have confirmed the condemnation of their predecessor. Two conflicting infallibilities neutralize each other.

Luther did not appeal to his conscience alone, but first and last to the Scripture as he understood it after the most earnest study. His conscience, as he said, was bound in the word of God, who cannot err. There, and there alone, he recognized infallibility. By recanting, he would have committed a grievous sin.

One man with the truth on his side is stronger than a majority in error, and will conquer in the end. Christ was right against the whole Jewish hierarchy, against Herod and Pilate, who conspired in condemning him to the cross. St. Paul was right against Judaism and heathenism combined, “unus versus mundum;” St. Athanasius, “the father of orthodoxy,” was right against dominant Arianism; Galileo Galilei was right against the Inquisition and the common opinion of his age on the motion of the earth; Döllinger was right against the Vatican Council when, “as a Christian, as a theologian, as an historian, and as a citizen,” he protested against the new dogma of the infallibility of the Pope.

That Luther was right in refusing to recant, and that he uttered the will of Providence in hearing testimony to the supremacy of the word of God and the freedom of conscience, has been made manifest by the verdict of history.

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[6] Activities of Demons

Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (Duffield, Van Cleave) 

Backing Idol worship, and encouraging formalism and asceticism are known activities of demons. We can see these play out in cannabis prohibition

The Doctrine of Angels

D. The Purpose of Demons

The overall purpose of demons seems to be twofold: they seek to hinder the purposes of God and to extend the power to satan. Satan’s desire to rule and to be “like the Most High” has not changed from it’s initial expression in Isaiah 14:13-14. His conduct in the wilderness temptation of Jesus is a positive evidence of this arrogant spirit, as he even sought to influence Christ to worship him (Mt. 4:9). Under his control, the hosts of demons are interested in fostering this very plan.

 

E. The Activities of Demons

1. Opposing the saints: They constantly oppose the saints in their endeavors to live godly lives and to serve the Lord: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms “ (Eph. 6:12, NIV); “ Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but satan hindered us” (1 Thes. 2:18). Inasmuch as satan is not omnipresent, many of the activities of the devil must be carried out by demons.

Handbook for Spiritual Warfare (Dr. Ed Murphy

-archai and exousiai

There is one more area of insight into the work of the powers among men which needs to be considered: the strategy of supernatural evil in manipulating human institutions and social structures to work evil among humanity. Walter Wink is the Champion of this more socio-cultural institutional view of spirit evil. He says that we must see Paul including here in Ephesians 6:12
‘all the archai and exousiai… not only divine but human, not only personified but structural, not only demons and kings but the world atmosphere and power invested in institutions, laws, traditions and rituals as well, for it is the cumulative, totalizing effect of all these taken together that creates the sense of bondage of a “dominion of darkness” (see Col. 1:13) presided over by higher powers.
Wink holds the kosmokratoras to include all who hold mastery over the world, the spirit of empire, and
“all forms of institutional idolatry, whereby religion, commerce, education, and state make their own well-being and survival the final criteria of morality, and by which they justify the liquidation of prophets, the persecution of deviants, and the ostracism of opponents”
Wink continues saying that it is the “suprahuman dimension of power in the institutions and the cosmos which must be fought, not the mere human agent “ The institution will perpetuate itself no matter who the human agent “because that is what the institution requires for it’s survival” Finally, he says that it is “this suprahuman quality which accounts for the apparent ‘heavenly’ bigger than life, quasi-eternal character of the powers”

2. Inducing departure from the Faith. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons]” (1 Tim. 4:1).

3. Encouraging formalism and ascetism as the result of false teaching : “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the Truth.” -1 Timothy 4:1-3

4. Backing all idol worship: “What I say then? That the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [demons], and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils [demons]. Ye cannot drink of the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils [demons]: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and the table of devils [demons]. 1 Corinthians 10:19-21

Paul, in discussing the question of offering meats to idols and whether it was right for Christians to then eat this meat, has already said “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4), but he warns that behind the idols is a demon. If the Corinthian Christians ate the meat which had been offered to the idols, they would be in danger of having fellowship with demons. It is difficult to understand how the multiplied millions who have worshipped and do worship idols could find any spiritual satisfaction in bowing down and pledging allegiance to something made by human hands. However, the realization that there are demon spirits behind the idols makes it clear that there is a spiritual communion there and that satan and his hosts have succeeded in deceiving the multitudes. Revelation 9:20 also points out the association between demons and idolatry: “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils [demons], and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk”

5. Causing various physical afflictions. It is in the power of demons to cause dumbness (Mt. 9:32-33), blindness (Mt. 12:22), insanity (Lk. 8:26-35), suicidal mania (Mk. 9:22), personal injuries (Mk. 9:18), and various defects and deformities (Lk. 13:11-17).

6. Accomplishing God’s purposes sometimes. As Unger explains:
“demons are the instruments for executing God’s plans for punishing the ungodly (Ps. 78:49). Wicked Ahab was punished for his crimes by a “lying spirit” which Jehovah put in the mouth of all his prophets to lead them to disaster at Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 22:23). Demons lure the God-resisting armies of Armageddon to similar catastrophe (Rv. 16:13-16). Satan and his ministers also effect God’s plans for chastening the godly. Satan’s sifting but accomplished the Lord’s winnowing, as in the case of Peter (Luke 22:31). Job is brought through satanic testing to a place of spiritual enlargement and refinement (Job 42:5-6). The incestuous believer at Corinth is delivered “unto satan for the destruction of of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). Hymenaeus and Alexander are “delivered unto satan, that they may be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20)

 

part 2 B. Demons and Men
Demons find their reason for existence in their relationship to men. When the demons who inhabited the body of the demoniac of Gadara were confronted by Christ, they asked to go into another body and He cast them into swine.

1. Possession
There are many references in the Word of God to demonic possession. We find that the manifestations of demonic possession work mostly on the mind and the nervous system. We are told that there are many people in the insane institutions of our day for which there is no evidence of any physical ailment. Psychiatry has tried to find answers, but their work has been one of the most notable failures related to health. Psychiatry has no answers for demon possession. Psychology cannot explain or suggest workable answers for these victims of Satan’s plot. Science may laugh at the Bible references to demon possession, but our Lord knew the terrible truth of this curse to men and used His power to deliver people fom such affliction.

Demonic possession results from a heart open to Satan’s influence. Many hearts and lives are opened to this by their obsession with occult knowledge. Books are sold by the million encouraging people to dabble in the black arts… The high rate of suicide among youths attests to the force of demonic activity in our day.

2. Oppression
Another form of Satan’s attack against people is by demonic oppression. This is influence from without. It is not control of the life, but powerful influence to alter the life. Oppression can be very hurtful and can have grave consequences, but it is not the same as possession, whereby demons invade the body and control the life. The Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” may be viewed as an example of this type of activity.

C. Limits of Demonic Authority

1. Limits set by God
Demons have power, but they are not all-powerful. They must operate within the limits set by God. They cannot read minds. They are not privy to God’s plan for our lives. They can hear our words, it would seem, and thus can act on any discouragement or doubts we may voice. They are allowed to afflict people who are open and receptive to their attacks, but cannot go where they are resisted and unwelcomed.

2. Limits set by saints
There is no Bible basis for the belief that Christians can be possessed of demons and still remain a Christian. Jesus told of the life that had been cleansed, but not inhabited. The unclean spirit who had been forced out of that life came and found the life unfilled and bringing seven other demons worse than himself, took up his abode there (Matthew 12:43-45). If we are filled with the Spirit of God, we will not be in danger of any demonic possession. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and the table of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:21). Pure water will not flow out of an unclean heart nor filthy water from a pure heart. Possession constitutes control. No man can have two masters. While the messengers of Satan can buffet and test the child of God, he has no power to enter and control the life dominated by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit.

D. Demons and the Believer

1. Keeping our lives free
We can make the devil flee by resisting him. We can prevent demonic control by being filled with the Spirit. An old proverb says that an idle mind is the devils’ playground. If we are preoccupied with selfish ends or desires, we make ourselves vulnerable to Satan’s attack. The protection of the believer lies in the Spirit controlled life. If we study the Bible as we should, we will learn the lessons which will keep us from sin. If we pray as we should, we will bring the Spirit’s aid in shielding us from the wiles of the enemy. If we fortify our lives with spiritual armor, we can withstand the attack of Satan. The battle for our souls is spiritual and out armor is spiritual. God has furnished us every protection we need to keep our lives victorious in Christ.

2. Bringing Deliverance to Others
With the rising influence of demonic activity, there is a growing need for Christians to be filled with the Spirit so that they may pray the prayer of deliverance for those who are possessed of demons. Not every sickness represents demon possession. Not every emotional problem is caused by demon possession. The Church needs discernment to know how to deal with these vile forces. Our prayer for the deliverance of the oppressed should be based on sound Bible principles. We should approach this in love and understanding as well as in faith and in power of the Holy Ghost. Many have been embarrassed and driven from the fellowship of the church by mishandling the subject of demons. They are real and they are a threat to our society, but the Lord can and will give us wisdom and discretion so that we may bring true deliverance without pain and emotional scars.

 

there is much to be said about this topic–here’s a broad Angelology outline specific to demonic activity, provided by PCG in “Basic Bible Truth” There’s one more quote that should be here with footnote 6; in regards to the demonization of Christians, which is the scandalization and alienation of brothers and sisters in Christ. Put simply, the alienation we feel from the Churches as a result of cannabis use and/or opinions about it are the result of demonization (note: not demon possession, demonization. See below demonic oppression).
Between the notes on Gnosticism (footnote 5) and the current, coupled with Scripture (Col.2:16, 1 Tim. 4, Rev. 2), there leaves little doubt that there is demonic activity behind the prohibition of foods and drinks such as cannabis.

III. Demons
A. Agents of Satan
The Bible offers no concrete evidences as to where demons come from. As pointed out earlier, it is questionable that they are fallen angels, for these are spoken of as being in chains. Whatever their source, they are spirits from Satan and hold a significant place in the war for the souls of men.

1. Doing Satan’s Work
Satan is the father of demons and they do his bidding. We do know that they exist in large numbers, considering the “legion” of demons that inhabited the demoniac of Gadara. Satan is skilled at imitating the works of God with a hellish twist. In demonic activity, we can see a perversion of the work of Holy Spirit, for these unholy spirits can and do come into the willing vessels, controlling and using them.

2. Enemies of Redemption
Demons are particularly adept at frustrating God’s plan for the lives of people who allow themselves to become open to demonic influences. The Bible talks of lying spirits (1 Kings 22:22), seducing spirits (1 Timothy 4:1), familiar spirits (Leviticus 20:21), and unclean spirits (Mark 1:27). These are only representative texts, for there are many references to both familiar spirits and unclean spirits. Those who have come out of the error of Spiritism say that the messages received in the seances are from demonic powers and that the person getting the message is called “the familiar”. The fact that these messages frequently tell facts about a dead person which could not be known to the medium is because “familiar spirits” know intimate details of the lives of the dead. They may also account for the rising popularity of “psychics” and their professed ability to reveal secrets of the lives of the gullible people who are drawn to them.

The rise of interest in the world of occult knowledge is bringing more and more demonic possession in our society. Demons always despise the blood of Christ and have been known to react violently in seances when the blood is mentioned. Satan hates Calvary and all truth’s related to Christ’s death for the salvation of mankind. It was at Calvary that Satan received his worst defeat and demons work very hard to hide the truth of the cross from mankind

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[5] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE): Gnosticism

Because there is so much reading involved, I gathered the highlights into another outline. Still a lot to read, but a lot more focused. I would really encourage you all to get a solid understanding of what Gnosticism is, because that is precisely what we battle here. It is all derived from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia under the heading “Gnosticism”. Can you see the parallels and Gnostic tendencies resurface in cannabis prohibition?

Footnote 4 Highlights- Gnosticism

I.General Definition
-The Gnostics took over only the idea of a redemption through Christ, not the full Christian doctrine, for they made it rather a redemption of the philosophers from matter, than a redemption of mankind from sin
-Gnosticism may be described generally as the fantastic product of the blending of certain Christian ideas–particularly that of redemption through Christ–with speculation and imaginings derived from a medley of sources (Greek, Jewish, Parsic; philosophies; religions, theosophies, mysteries)
-Gnosticism, though usually regarded as a heresy, was not really such: it was not the perverting of Christian truth; it came, rather, from outside. Having worked its way into the Christian church, it was then heretical. “Although it became a corrupting influence within the church, it was an alien by birth.

II. Sources of Gnosticism.
1. Alexandrian Philosophy- In Philo’s teaching there is a sharp line drawn between God and the material world: with him God cannot exert any action upon the world of matter, except through intermediate agency, the Jewish angels and the heathen demons.
-According to Philo the creation of the universe was a gradual molding out of matter; hence, arises evil. He also teaches the preexistence of the soul, which is now imprisoned in the flesh. The wise man, therefore, will break the thralldom of the flesh, and will rise by a sort of ecstasy to the immediate vision of God.
2. Zoroastrianism- The Zoroastrian or Persian system was based on the assumption that there existed two original and independent powers of good and evil, of light and darkness, the wise Lord, and the wicked spirit. These powers were believed to be equal, and each supreme in his own domain.
-In oriental (Persian) dualism, it is within this material world that the good and the evil powers are at war, and this world beneath the stars is by no means conceived as entirely subject to evil. Gnosticism has combined the two, the Greek opposition between spirit and matter, and the sharp Zoroastrian dualism And out of the combination of these two dualisms arose the teaching of Gnosticism with its thorough going pessimism and its fundamental asceticism”

III. Nature of Gnosticism.
-“Gnosticism,” says Dr. Gwatkin, “is Christianity perverted by learning and speculation”
-Gnosticism puts knowledge in the place which can only rightly be occupied by Christian faith.
-This knowledge of theirs was not based on reflection or scientific inquiry and proof, but on revelation
-Gnosticism in all its various sections, its form and its character, falls under the category of mystic religions, which were so characteristic of the religious life of decadent antiquity

IV. Chief Points in Gnosticism:
-The questions, therefore, with which Gnosticism concerned itself were those of the relation of the finite and the infinite, the origin of the world and of evil, the cause, meaning, purpose and destiny of all things, the reason of the difference in the capacities and in the lot in life of individual men, the method of salvation. The following may be regarded as the chief points in the characteristics of the Gnostic systems:
(1). A claim on the part of the initiated to a special knowledge of the truth, a tendency to regard knowledge as superior to faith, and as the special possession of the more enlightened, for ordinary Christians did not possess this secret and higher doctrine.
(2) The essential separation of matter and spirit, the former of these being essentially evil, and the source from which all evil has arisen.
(3) An attempt at the solution of the problems of creation and of the origin of evil by the conception of a Demiurge, i.e. a Creator or Artificer of the world as distinct from the Supreme Deity, and also by means of emanations extending between God and the visible universe. It should be observed that this conception merely concealed the difficulties of the problem, and did not solve them.
(4) A denial of the true humanity of Christ, a docetic Christology, (which looked upon the earthly life of Christ and especially on His sufferings on the cross as unreal.
(5) The denial of the personality of the Supreme God, and the denial also of the free will of man.
(6) The teaching, on the one hand, of asceticism as the means of attaining to spiritual communion with God, and, on the other hand, of an indifference which led directly to licentiousness.
(7) A syncretistic tendency which combined certain more or less misunderstood Christian doctrines, various elements from oriental and Jewish and other sources.
(8) The Scriptures of the Old Testament were ascribed to the Demiurge or inferior Creator of the world, who was the God of the Jews, but not the true God.
-Some of these characteristic ideas are more obvious in one, and some of them in others of the Gnostic systems. The relation of these ideas to Christian facts and doctrines is dealt with more particularly below.

IV. Gnosticism in the Christian Church In the New Testament and the Apostolic Age.
-The germ of Gnosticism in the Christian church made its appearance in the apostolic age, and is referred to by Paul in several of his epistles, notably in that to the Colossians and in the Pastoral Epistles. It is also referred to by the apostles Peter and Jude; references to it are found, besides, in the Apocalypse, the First Epistle of John and the Gospel of John.

1. Colossians: -In col a great deal is said regarding a false teaching, an insidious theosophist doctrine, the teachers of which were alienating the Christians in Colosse from the gospel, and were disseminating their speculations, which led to the worship of angels in contrast to the worship of Christ, to esoteric exclusiveness wholly opposed to the universality of the gospel, and to an asceticism injurious to Christian freedom, and derogatory to the human body as indwelt by the Holy Ghost. These tenets are identical with the more fully developed Gnosticism of the generation succeeding that of the apostles; and at the root of the Colossian false teaching there lay the same error which the Gnostic mind had no way of meeting, namely, that there could be no connection between the highest spiritual agency, that is God, and gross corporeal matter.
This ascetic tendency is wonderfully widespread; it reappears century after century, and shows itself in many forms of religion, not merely in distorted forms of Christianity
-In the Epistle to the Colossians, accordingly, there are definite references to ascetic practices which were inculcated by the false teachers at Colosse. The very terms which they employed have been preserved, “Touch not,” “Taste not,” “Handle not.” It was in this way that these teachers had “at their own hand” invented a worship different from that of the Christian faith, which endeavored to attain the deliverance of the soul by “the neglecting of the body” (Col 2:21,23 the King James Version). These Gnostic teachers showed these tendencies still more boldly when Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy (see below), for he describes them as “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats”
-These tendencies in the Colossian church Paul set himself to correct in his epistle. The method which he adopts is not so much to demolish error, as to establish the contrary truth,
-In view of truths like these, Colossian error and all other forms of Gnosticism crumble into decay and vanish.

2. Pastoral Epistles:
-In 1 Tim 6:20,21 Paul speaks of the “knowledge (the gnosis) which is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” In other places in that epistle reference is made to tenets which are exactly those of Gnosticism.
-In 4:3, as already noted, Paul describes ascetic practices which were regarded by their votaries as most meritorious. To abstain from marriage and from various kinds of food was the teaching of the Essenes and also of the Gnostics. This ascetic teaching was unnatural, as contrary to the constitution of the world, as that has been arranged by a holy and wise Creator, and it is also subversive of Christian liberty. Nothing can be esteemed common or unclean without throwing a reproach upon the Creator.

a. Antinomian Development. -But another and contrary result also followed from the principles of the sinfulness of matter and of redemption as deliverance from the flesh, namely, that there was an easier way of relief, by treating the soul and the body as separate entities which have nothing in common. Let the soul go its way on the wings of spiritual thought, while the body may indulge its fleshly desires. For, so it was held, as body and soul are entirely distinct in their nature, the spiritual cannot be defiled by anything, however carnal and gross, that the body can do. This was the antinomian development of Gnosticism.

3. 1 John: In the First Epistle of John there is a distinct polemical purpose. There is no book of the New Testament which is more purposeful in its attack of error. There is “the spirit of error” (1 Jn 4:6), opposing the Spirit of truth. “Many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1), and this from the church itself, “They went out from us, but they were not of us” (1 Jn 2:19); and these false prophets are distinctly named “the antichrist” (1 Jn 2:22) and “the liar” (same place), and “the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 Jn 1:7). This peril, against which the apostle writes, and from which he seeks to defend the church, was Gnosticism, as is proved by what is said again and again in the epistle of the characteristics of this insidious and deadly teaching.
a. Its Loveless Nature. -Gnosticism was distinguished by an unethical, loveless intellectualism. The system was loveless to the core
b. Docetism. -Now, when the attempt was made to amalgamate these Gnostic ideas with the Christian faith, the inevitable result was Docetism. Just because God cannot have any immediate contact with matter, therefore the incarnation of Almighty God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ is inconceivable. From this position it is, of course, only a step to deny that the incarnation and the true human life of Christ ever took place at all.

c. The Antichrist. –The Antichrist of the First Epistle of John is docetic Gnosticism

d. Its Antinomian Side. -The antinomian side of Gnosticism is not so directly referred to in the First Epistle of John as Docetism is; but evidences are manifest that the apostle had it clearly before him.

The Nicolaitans.
-In the Epistles to the Seven Churches in the Apocalypse there are other references to Gnosticism. Who the Nicolaitans were (Rev 2:6,15) is not absolutely certain; but it is not unlikely that they were so called because of their having assumed the name of “Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch” (Acts 6:5). The first step to the reception of Gentile believers into the Christian church on an equal footing with the Jews may have been the appointment of Nicolaus as one of the first deacons, for the facts that he was a native of Antioch and a proselyte, show that he had been a heathen by birth. And it is noteworthy to find such a person appointed to office in the church at so very early a period, even before the conversion of the apostle Paul. The Nicolaitans therefore may have distorted in an antinomian sense the doctrine taught by Nicolaus, who in all probability proclaimed the liberty of the gospel, as his fellow-deacon, Stephen, did (Acts 7 throughout). But the liberty claimed by the Nicolaitans was liberty to sin. They are mentioned in the Epistle to Ephesus, and their deeds are characterized as deeds which Christ hates (Rev 2:6). Their name occurs again in the Epistle to Pergamum, and there also their doctrine is described as a doctrine which the Lord hates (Rev 2:15). Their teaching was one of licentiousness–eating things sacrifical to idols, and committing fornication (Rev 2:14). Again in the Epistle to Thyatira, the Gnostics are spoken of as practicing the same evil courses, and as holding a doctrine of “the depths of Satan” (Rev 2:20,21,24 the King James Version)–see above. The persons mentioned in the Epistle to Philadelphia were also evidently Gnostics. They are described as being “of the synagogue of Satan” (Rev 3:9).
-In the language of Jude, as in that of Peter, which it closely imitates, we may clearly discern a reference to the Gnostic sect of the Nicolaitans mentioned by name in Revelation. The comparison in all these passages, of the error condemned with that of Balaam, is decisive as to the identity of the persons intended. The other characteristics noted by Peter are also repeated by Jude–their denial of the Lord, their profligate lives, their contempt of government, and evil speaking of dignities and of things that they know not, their pollution of the feasts of charity, their great swelling words. The antinomian, no less than the ascetic side of Gnosticism, seems by this time to have fully manifested itself” (Mansel, The Gnostic Heresies, 71).

Asecticism and Antinomianism: The necessary consequence of the Gnostic theory in an ascetic morality which passed over by sure steps into antinomian license has likewise been fully illustrated in the foregoing, and need not be further enlarged on. The whole has its root in a false intellectualism, to which the gospel in its inculcation of humility, faith and dependence upon God’s Spirit for guidance into truth is, in its inmost principle, opposed.

V. Harnack’s View of Gnosticism
-Gnosticism was an acute Hellenizing of Christianity

VI. Modern Gnosticism.
-Gnosticism in its ancient form has passed away, but it is interesting to observe how its spirit reappears from time to time in modern days. Gnosticism, as already seen, is not one aspect of thought alone, but many. And in one form or another it is seen again and again
-Phases of Gnostic teaching are reproduced in modern pantheistic philosophies and other forms of religious doctrine
-It is easily seen how teaching of this sort strikes at the root of all religion and morality. The personality of God, the personality and free will of man, the existence of moral evil, the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the redemption which He accomplished for the world, His resurrection, the whole significance of His person and His work–all is denied. This is the spirit and the meaning of Gnosticism.
-Dr. Gwatkin sums up the matter thus: “Gnosticism undermined Christian monotheism by its distinction of the Creator from the Supreme, Christian morals by its opposition of the philosopher to the unlearned, Christian practice by its separation of knowledge from action; and it cut away the very basis of the gospel whenever it explained away its history. In every case it had got hold of truth on one side–the reality of evil in the world, the function of knowledge in religion, the difference between the letter and the spirit; but fragments of truth are not enough for a gospel, which is false if all truth is not summed up in Christ. Therefore, there could be no peace between the Gnostic illuminati and the Christian churches” (Early Church History, II, 68).

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