This is a flyer that was passed out by the Pentecostal church of Alexandria (better known as POA – Pentecostals of Alexandria) in the early ’90s. I found this gem in one of my dad’s Protestant Bibles that he used during his ministry as a Pentecostal pastor. He saved it for a chuckle–and I’m glad he did.
Go ahead, click on the image above to read it more clearly. I’ll wait.
Ok. Now I don’t want to be mean, but good Lord! It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sadly inaccurate. This is the kind of thing you would expect to find in a Jack Chick tract.
There’s so many theological and historical out-right falsities it’s difficult to know where to start. This flyer makes me want to write a series of posts to cover the false history and false representations of Catholic doctrine… oh and of course, the big tamale, the false doctrine of the “Rapture.”
I guess the best place to start is with history.
With such an abysmal knowledge and sense of history among most Americans… it’s no surprise that people would believe this sort of timeline.
The flyer asserts that after the first Church was founded, (which it assuredly says was Pentecostal, as in the modern Pentecostal brand), that the Church went into the “Dark Ages.” If you talk with a Pentecostal who has been taught this mess, they will tell you that after the Apostolic Age–that is, after the Apostles died–the Church fell into apostasy (e.g. the Great Apostasy).
I’ll start here.
“At the death of the last Apostle; the Church fell into apostasy!”
For the sake of this argument, let us assume that this is true. We will assume that the early Christian Church, which historically is the Catholic Church, fell into apostasy after the death of the last Apostle.
“300 years of persecution brought on the DARK AGES!”
Was there persecution during the first 300 years? Absolutely! Probably the worst persecution of the Christian Church that we have ever seen–only to be rivaled by the Great Tribulation to come.
We know by historic fact that early Christian churches did not have a full canon. What does that mean? It meant that Christians did not have the full New Testament as we have it today. For almost 400 years, Christians did not have a Bible! How did they “get saved” without the Bible?
Some Christian communities had different letters from different Apostles, but no one community had all of the letters from the Apostles that we have today, compiled into what we now call the New Testament. For example, some communities may not have gotten a copy of the Gospel of Mark, or the letter to the Galatians–for years!
The state of communication and travel of the day obviously was not as it is today. How were communities to know that the letter they had received was authentic? Let’s say the church in Sardis had gotten a copy of a copy of a copy of Hebrews. How were they to know that it was inspired or not? We know that St. Paul said in Sacred Scripture that there were forgeries going around with his name on it!
Many communities claimed certain letters were inspired by the Holy Spirit that are not included in our canon today. There was a lot of debate and controversy over inspired canon… for more than 300 years after Christ’s death.
The Third Council of Carthage in 397 A.D., was the first official gathering of the Church that issued an official declaration to which “Books” that were to be considered Sacred Scripture. Pope St. Siricius issued a decree of the list of Books that would make up the Bible. The same Books that the Catholic Bible has: 73 Books; 46 Old Testament Books and 27 New Testament Books.
The Catholic Church gave the world a unified, inspired canon, called the Holy Bible.
Christians could not consult the Bible to see what books were to be included within the Bible. The case to settle the canon of inspired letters once and for all was brought to the Church. The Catholic Church.
If the Church had been in apostasy, and as the flyer insists would be in apostasy for another 1,200 years, how do the Pentecostals explain using the New Testament canon that the Catholic Church gave them? There is no “inspired index” given in Sacred Scriptures. So how do they know that what they read from is inspired at all?
Most will point to 2 Timothy 3:16, but isn’t that a circular argument? It would be as if you wrote a letter and wrote in it that it was inspired by God, and then to prove it was–pointed back to your letter claiming “well, because I wrote that it was!” See what I mean? Not only that, the only established Scripture written at the time was the Old Testament. It can be used to refer to the books of the New Testament, but the context of the author was in reference to the Old Testament since the New hadn’t been written yet.
So, you have to believe that the Catholic Church, who gave us the Bible as we know it today (minus seven books of the Old Testament for Protestants), was not in apostasy or it could not have given us inspired canon!
You can’t have it both ways.