As we saw in Part 1, the early church fathers believed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the early church for the first three centuries practiced them. The qualification for a leader was to operate using the gifts of the Holy Spirit with anointing.
Eddie Hyatt writes: “With the growing emphasis on organizational structure, episcopas, evolved into a separate and distinct office with increasing prestige and power. This change is borne out in the writings of Ignatius, bishop of Caesarea, who in all his writings (A.D. 110), seems preoccupied with defending and promoting the authority and prestige of the bishop. In To the Smyrneans, for example, Ignatius declares, ‘only that Eucharist which is under the bishop is to be considered valid.’ He asserted that apart from the bishop, it is not lawful ‘either to baptize or to hold a love-feast.’ (Ignatius, “To the Smyrneans,” The Apostolic Fathers, pg. 189). In his letter To the Trallians, he admonishes his readers to ‘do nothing without the bishop.’ (Ignatius, “To the Trallians,” The Apostolic Fathers, pg. 161).
“Ash describes Ignatius’ attempt to garner such authority for himself and for the office of the bishop as ‘a novelty.” (Ash, The Decline of Ecstatic Prophecy in the Early Church, pg. 249). Indeed, when compared with the writings of the New Testament, it is obvious that Ignatius has taken a new path in church government. In his classic work, The Primitive Church, Burnett Streeter says: ‘What nobody questions, nobody defends; over-enthusiastic defense implies the existence of strong opposition. The principle which Ignatius is so concerned to uphold is one by no means universally recognized.’ (Streeter, The Primitive Church, pg. 169-70).
“History demonstrates that the institutional trend advocated by Ignatius continued, culminating in the ecclesiasticism of the medieval Roman Catholic Church and in its monarchical bishop. This meant that outward ecclesiastical forms of both office and ritual came to be valued over personal, spiritual experiences. It also meant that spontaneous manifestations of the Holy Spirit became less and less desirable, especially by those in authority. It is for this reason that Ash, in answer to the popular notion that the charismatic gifts were replaced by the New Testament Canon, declares, ‘The bishops, not the Canon, expelled prophecy.’ (Ash, pg. 228).
“For those who embraced this emphasis on organizational structure, spiritual authority was no longer seen as residing in the person with the spiritual gift. That authority now resided, instead, in the one occupying the ecclesiastical office. This generated mounting tensions between those who continued to embrace spiritual gifts and those who preferred the emerging organizational structure.
“Those who desired the freedom and spontaneity of the Spirit felt squelched by the growing ritual and formality. On the other hand, church leaders, who by now might occupy the office without the spiritual gift, felt uncomfortable with the charismatics’ claim of direct communion with God.” (Eddie L. Hyatt, “2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity”, pgs. 24-25).
“Montanus was born in Phrygia during the first half of the second century. At one time he may have been a bishop…he was orthodox in his faith, accepting all the books of the Canon, as well as the Rule of Faith. (Tertullian, “On Fasting”, vol. 4 of The Ante-Nicene Christian Library, pg. 102 ) He was ‘distinguished in working signs and miracles,’ and even his enemies admitted that ‘both his life and doctrine were holy and blameless.’ (John Lacy, The General Delusion of Christians Touching the Ways of God’s Revealing Himself to and by the Prophets, pg. 293.)
“Montanus was concerned about the growing formalism in the Church and the increasing moral laxity of its members. Around A.D. 172, therefore, he began to reassert the importance of the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit and to insist that Christians practice a morally strict lifestyle.
“The qualifying factor for ministry in the Church, according to Montanus, was possession of a spiritual gift rather than appointment to ecclesiastical office. He particularly emphasized the gift of prophecy and was soon joined by two prophetesses, Prisca and Maximilla. Speaking in tongues was probably also a common occurrence among the Montanites. (Klawiter, “The New Prophecy in Early Christianity: The Origin, Nature and Development of Montanism, A.D. 165-200”.)
“This emphasis on spiritual gifts brought Montanus into sharp conflict with many church leaders who contended that the newly-developing ecclesiastical office held preeminence over any spiritual gift. (Schaff, History of the Christian Church vol. 2, pg. 424). These leaders also took issue with the manner in which Montanus and his followers delivered prophecies. Although they found no fault with the content of the prophecies, they accused them of delivering prophecy in a frenzied state of ecstasy. (Eusebius, pg 222). Declaring this to be proof of the demonic origin of the messages, the critics accused Montanus and his followers of being demon possessed.
“Support for Montanus and his followers was widespread. Eusebius indicates that Irenaeus was sent to Rome by the Gallic Christians to intercede on behalf of the Montanists. (Eusebius, pg. 206). His intercession initially induced the bishop of Rome to issue letters of peace to the Montanist churches, but later he withdrew them. Irenaeus must have been referring to the opposers of Montanus when he expressed his dismay at those who ‘set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit.’ These same men, said Irenaeus, could not admit the apostle Paul either, for in his epistle to the Corinthians ‘he expressly speaks of prophetical gifts, and recognizes men and women prophesying in the Church.’ (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, vol. 1 of The Ante-Nicene Christian Library, pg. 429).
“In North Africa, the Montanists were defended by Tertullian who joined the movement around the year A.D. 200…A complication, however, arose through Praxeas…He successfully influenced the Roman bishop against the new prophets, and the letters of peace were withdrawn. Tertullian says that Praxeas did a twofold service for the devil at Rome. ‘He drove away prophecy and he brought in heresy; he put to flight the Paraclete, and he crucified the Father.’ (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, pg. 597).” Tertullian also wrote seven books defending ecstatic prophecy, all of which were either lost or destroyed. (Hyatt, pgs. 25-27).
“The Monastics were devout believers who lived ascetic lives in an effort to experience the presence and power of God in a very personal manner. The initial stage of the movement was individualistic with these ascetics living as hermits. Around A.D. 320, they began to gather together in communities where they lived a totally self-sufficient lifestyle. During the Middle Ages (A.D. 600-1517), these communities or monasteries, as they were called, became centers of learning and the monks served as custodians of books and manuscripts. In complete devotion to God, they gave themselves to study, prayer, and meditation. Indeed, they proved to be shining lights during the period of intense social decadence known as the Dark Ages (A.D. 500-1300).
“Following Constantine’s ascent to power, most supernatural phenomena are recorded either by monastics or by those who venerated the monastic lifestyle. Cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens is correct in saying, ‘In its beginnings, monasticism was, in fact, a charismatic movement.’ (Suenens, A New Pentecost, pg. 38). The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, which disappeared from the institutional church, now appeared among the monastics. Many monks gained notoriety for their power in prayer and their ability to produce healing, deliverance from demonic oppression, and other miraculous phenomena. Church fathers, such as Athanasius, Augustine, and Jerome, who speak of miracles, either practiced the monastic lifestyle themselves or were closely associated with those who did. (Has yatt, pg. 41-42)
The monks separated themselves from the organized church because of the utter corruption and moral debauchery found inside the church because of their pagan leaders. They despised the institutionalized church with its bishops (popes) because of their lust for fame, fortune and immorality, both in homosexuality and fornication. When Constantine elevated Christianity as an official state religion, a universal church developed filled with the pomp and immorality of the Roman Empire. This led the way for the papacy with all its sins, as the bishop of Rome claimed headship over the church in succession from Peter and Paul, which is utterly unfounded from an historical and scriptural perspective.
The following are some examples of monks who operated in the supernatural gifts of healing the sick, discerning the spirits, deliverance to the demonized, visions, dreams, working of miracles and speaking in tongues, etc. Anthony (A.D. 251-356), Pachomius (A.D. 292-346), Athanasius (A.D. 295-373), Hilarion (A.D.305-385), Ambrose (A.D. 340-397), Jerome (A.D. 347-420), Augustine (A.D. 354-430), Benedict (A.D. 480-547), Gregory the Great (A.D. 540-604), etc.
The following books depict the of the lives of these men and how they disdained the evil of the organized church, thus separating themselves and committing their lives to loving God with all their heart, studying the word, praying, fasting, meditating and ministering to the people: Life of Anthony, vol. 4 of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church; A Treasury of Early Christianity; Illustrious Men of the Church; Letters of Athanasius, vol. 4 of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church; The Life of Saint Hilarion, vol. 6 of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church; The City of God, vol. 2 of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church; Of the Spirit, vol. 10 of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church; A History of the Christian Church; Christianity Through the Centuries; The Epistle of Saint John, vol. 12 of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church; Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord; Dialogues, vol. 39 of The Fathers of the Church; and Butler’s Lives of the Saints.
“During the Middle Ages, the transformation of the old apostolic Church into the medieval Roman Catholic Church was fully consummated. The papal office became fully developed and popes exercised civil as well as spiritual power. They collected taxes, raised armies, and subjugated kings and rulers. The ecclesiastical church thus became the dominant force in society and spread its influence throughout the western world.
“This preoccupation with earthly affluence and political power produced a dearth of spiritual gifts in the institutional church. Illustrating this fact is a story about Thomas Aquinas visiting Rome and being shown the church’s wealth by Pope Innocent IV. In the course of their observations, Innocent said to Aquinas, ‘You see that the Church is no longer in an age in which she can say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’ Aquinas replied, ‘It is true, nor can she say to the lame man, ‘Rise up and walk.’ (Adam Clarke, The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with a Commentary and Critical Notes, pg. 705) (Hyatt, pg. 55)
“During the Middle Ages, the distinction between those who performed miracles and those who did not became very sharp. This resulted in strong bias by the Church against the occurrence of miracles among the common people. This bias was clearly demonstrated by the Roman Church’s publication of the Roman Ritual around the year A.D. 1000 which declared, among other things, that speaking in tongues among the common people was to be considered prima facie evidence of demon possession. Among the monastics and Church hierarchy, however, it could be considered evidence of sainthood! Miracles thus became exclusively associated with the saintly, ascetic lifestyle and any occurrence of miracles among the common people was looked upon as the work of sorcery or witchcraft. Since the reading of the Scriptures by the common people in their own language was discouraged, this left the masses at the mercy of a highly complex and elaborate religious system that offered corporate identity but no personal access to God.” (Hyatt, pg. 58)
“A resurgence of genuine spiritual renewal began in the eleventh century. It breathed new life into the Church at large, and into the monastic movement in particular. New orders including the Cistercians, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans emerged. Whereas the earlier monastic orders had cloistered themselves from the world, these newer orders, especially the Franciscans and the Dominicans, went among the people. Known as the preaching friars, they preached the Gospel in the language of the people and helped them in various ways.
“An outstanding trait of these preaching friars was their commitment to obey literally all the commands of Jesus. Motivated by devotion, they took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They emulated Jesus’ disciples (Lk. 10:1-12) who were to go on preaching missions without carrying extra money or clothing, thus putting themselves in a position of dependence on God and at the mercy of the people. In addition, they could not help but see Jesus’ instructions and promises regarding miracles. This facilitated the manifestation of biblical miracles in their own lives and ministries.
“These preaching friars thus restored to the Church a much-needed dimension. By adhering to the words of Jesus, they recovered the purity and faith of an earlier day. This devotion and expectation facilitated what may be considered another charismatic renewal at a crucial point in the history of the Church.” (Hyatt, pg. 61)
Some of these friars were Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Dominic, Francis of Assisi, etc. We do not have time in this paper to go into their lives, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit they ministered in. But the following are some examples of the manifestation of the charismata among devout Christians:
“Vincent of Ferrier (1350-1419), a Dominican preacher, had many miracles and countless conversions where ever he preached. It is recorded in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints,” vol. 2,32., that people fainted (fell under the power) in his meetings. Butler writes, “On the authority of reliable writers, various ethnic groups where he traveled and preached heard him speaking in their own language.” (Butler’s, vol.2,33). Jean of the Cross is said to have spoken in tongues often, once convincing two Moslems to believe on Christ by speaking in tongues in their native Arabic. St. Stephen (A.D. 1396), on his missions to Georgia, is said to have preached to the natives in their own language, a tongue he had never learned. St. Colette (1380-1447) is also said to have possessed the gift of tongues and to have spoken in both Latin and German. (Cutten, pg. 40). Best known, perhaps, is Francis Xavier (1506-1552). In his missions to the Far East, he is said to have spoken Japanese ‘as if he had lived in Japan all his life.” (Cutten, pg. 45) When the time came for his canonization by Urban VIII, much was made of the fact that Xavier possessed the gift of tongues and that he ‘spoke to the various tribes with ease in their languages’ (Cutten, pg. 44)” (Hyatt, pg. 66)
Ladies and gentlemen, nothing has changed since the Middle and Dark Ages. The lies of the Catholic Church concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit have now spread to many protestant churches. People who do not understand the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues, allege that it is of the devil. The same old charges and allegations that the hypocritical Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes leveled against Jesus Christ and His disciples are being spoken today against anointed men of God. I am always amazed how a coffee house rabbi who has never led a person to Jesus Christ; has never been used of God to heal the sick; has never cast out a demon or had signs and wonders work through his ministry; yet, he is a self-proclaimed teacher of heresy, teaching and ridiculing what he has never done himself nor understands.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit have always been in operation in every generation, even though bishops and popes have tried to stop them. Many Church leaders have become spiritual bastards, and their churches and denominations are nothing more than a den of thieves. Yet, the church of Jesus Christ will go forth with power, authority and anointing forever and ever! In the next issue I will continue to show that in every century and every new denomination the work was birthed from the Holy Spirit with the supernatural manifestations accompanying it. I will also show that when the church or denomination foresook the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit which was its birthright and foundation, then the movement in all reality died. Shalom
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“THE CHURCH HAS DIVORCED ITSELF FROM ITS ROOTS”
by Jonathan Hansen
~ To Be Continued ~
WMI is now focusing on the following 42 nations: The United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Philippines, India, Jamaica, Honduras, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Burundi, The Congo, Iran, Sweden, Norway, England, Russia, Germany, Finland, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Yugoslavia, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Turkey. In these countries we are trying to saturate the nation with the prophetic warning through articles, newspapers, radio, television, etc. We encourage you to study the prophecies on many of these nations on our web site at www.worldministries.org. They will help you know how to pray for each nation. We need intercessors in and for these countries.
© 2002 World Ministries International