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The Pilgrim Church — Introduction
15 December 2014
The Harlot Church System by Charles E. Newbold. Those articles explain the bad news of the man-made institution called church and the man-made religion called Christianity.
Starting with today’s article, I want to introduce you to a wonderful book which recounts the good news. In contrast to the Harlot Church, E. H. Broadbent traces the 1,700-plus-year history of what he calls the Pilgrim Church.
I had purchased this book nearly three years ago in hardback format, but just a few months ago a less-expensive paperback edition became available.
I was born into the Harlot Church, baptized into it as a baby, and confirmed into it when I was an early teen. At age sixteen I left that particular church institution, saying to myself, “I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I know for sure that it isn’t here.”
By age 18 I was back in the man-made church system, but this time in a more modern, charismatic church. For the next 25 years, I was very involved in the Christian religion through participating with a number of Christian organizations, until I stopped going to church about 10 years ago.
From my earliest days in the man-made institutional church I had never truly felt at home. Rather, I felt like an alien, a foreigner, a stranger in a strange land. The members of these organizations were, collectively, not my people, and I was not part of their “family.”
So imagine my immense joy as I started to read The Pilgrim Church earlier this year, and I began to unearth my spiritual roots. In the nearly-2,000-year history of the Pilgrim Church, I finally found my spiritual home, my spiritual family, and my spiritual history. No longer was I an orphan, adrift and alone in the world!
Despite what I had been taught and raised in, the Harlot Church was NOT my mother! My true mother is the Pilgrim Church! And as I read page after page, chapter after chapter of this amazing book, I discovered many long-lost brothers and sisters whom I had never heard of before, and whom I didn’t even know I had. They were true heroes who were worthy to be children of their Pilgrim Church mother and God their Heavenly Father.
The blurbs on the front and back cover of The Pilgrim Church will give you a small foretaste of the glorious story contained within:
Tracing the pathway of the forgotten saints from Pentecost to the Twentieth Century. It ought to be obvious to even the casual observer of history that the real story of the church is not the one recorded in secular history. But E.H. Broadbent’s classic work, The Pilgrim Church, demonstrates that the true heart of this amazing drama is not even recorded in church history books.The history and detailed stories recounted in this book have inspired me, strengthened me, encouraged me, astonished me, angered me, and saddened me. The evil done to true followers of Yeshua (Jesus) by those who considered themselves to be Christians is mind-boggling. Church leaders whom I had considered heroes for so many years were suddenly and shockingly revealed to be, more or less, villains!
This is the story of believers, “of whom the world was not worthy,” who not only were persecuted by civil authorities, but were denounced, defamed, and decimated by the professing church. These believers claimed only the name of Christ, and were prepared to suffer for His cause rather than submit to those man-made traditions that they believed contradicted the Word of God.
Even though all of the members of the Pilgrim Church were (and are) heroes, they were not perfect, and some of her leaders made tragic mistakes. Their heartbreaking failures as well as their glorious triumphs are recorded here.
There are many little-known, amazing stories in The Pilgrim Church which I will be sharing with you in a series of future articles. For now, I will leave you with some introductory material from the beginning of the book. I have taken excerpts from here and there, so what I have reproduced below is not the author’s continuous text or original flow of thought.
Please note Mr. Broadbent’s particular use of the word “primitive” when referring to the early churches. He is using it in the specific sense of “being the first or earliest of the kind or in existence,” and NOT in the more general sense of “uncivilized, savage, simple, unsophisticated, crude, or unrefined.”
If the following passages whet your appetite, I strongly encourage you to get your own copy of the book so you can enjoy the entire feast. It is truly nourishing food for the soul!
The New Testament reveals the Church of Christ, consisting of all who are born again through faith in the Son of God and so made partakers of the divine and eternal life (John 3:16). As this body, the whole Church of Christ, cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place, since many of its members are already with Christ and others scattered throughout the world, it is appointed to be actually known and to bear its testimony in the form of churches of God in various places and at different times.In closing, I need to make it very clear that just because I included links to Wikipedia articles on this page, this in no way indicates that I endorse those articles or approve of what they say. In this article I have highlighted a couple of paragraphs in yellow, in which the author explains that the Harlot Church system promoted lies about the various expressions of the Pilgrim Church and slandered them as heretical.
Each of these consists of those disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the place where they live, gather together in His Name. To such the presence of the Lord in their midst is promised and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit is given in different ways through all the members (Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
Each of these churches stands in direct relationship to the Lord, draws its authority from Him, and is responsible to Him (Revelation 2‑3). There is no suggestion that one church should control another or that any organized union of churches should exist, but an intimate personal fellowship unites them (Acts 15:36).
From the book of the Acts and the Epistle to the Galatians it is seen that the first serious danger that threatened the Christian Church was that of being confined within the limits of a Jewish sect and so losing its power and liberty to bring the knowledge of God’s salvation in Christ to the whole world.
Greek philosophies formed the basis of many heresies which invaded the Church from the beginning, and were already being combatted in the later New Testament writings, especially in those of Paul and John.
The means adopted to counter these attacks and to preserve unity of doctrine negatively affected the Church even more than the heresies themselves, for it was largely due to them that the episcopal power and control grew up along with the clerical system which began so soon and so seriously to modify the character of the churches.
The growth of a clerical system under the domination of the bishops, who in turn were ruled by metropolitans controlling extensive territories, substituted a human organization and religious forms for the power and working of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Scriptures in the separate churches.
Events in the history of the churches in the time of the apostles were selected and recorded in the Book of the Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the churches. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles in the Scriptures.
As the churches increased, the first zeal flagged and conformity to the world and its ways increased. The Montanists hoped to raise up congregations that should return to primitive piety, live as those waiting for the Lord’s return, and especially give to the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the Church.
There is frequent reference in later centuries to those churches that had adhered to apostolic doctrine, and which claimed unbroken succession of testimony from the time of the apostles. They often received, both before and after the time of Constantine, the name of Cathars, or Puritans, though it does not appear that they took this name themselves.
The name Novatians was also given to them, though Novatian was not their founder, but one who, in his day, was a leader among them. They ceased to recognize the Catholic churches or to acknowledge any value in their ordinances.
There has been a continuous succession of churches composed of believers who have made it their aim to act on the teaching of the New Testament. This succession is not necessarily to be found in any one place; often such churches have been dispersed or have degenerated, but similar ones have appeared in other places.
The pattern is so clearly delineated in the Scriptures as to have made it possible for churches of this character to spring up in fresh places and among believers who did not know that disciples before them had taken the same path, or that there were some in their own time in other parts of the world. At all times and in various places, countless believers have suffered at the hands of the dominant World-Church rather than deny Christ or be turned back from following Him.
Their writings, sharing the fate of the writers, have been destroyed to the full extent of the power allowed to their persecutors. Not only so, but histories of them have been promulgated by those in whose interest it was to disseminate the worst inventions (lies) against them in order to justify their own cruelties. In such accounts they are depicted as heretics, and evil doctrines are ascribed to them which they repudiated. They are called “sects,” and labels are attached to them which they themselves would not acknowledge.
They usually called themselves Christians, or Brethren, but numerous names were given to them by others in order to create the impression that they represented many new, strange, and unconnected sects, opprobrious epithets being applied to them to bring them into disrepute. It is therefore difficult to trace their history. What their adversaries have written of them must be suspect; words from their own lips wrung out by torture are valueless.
There is, however, in spite of these hindrances, a large body of trustworthy evidence, continually being added to by further investigation, which shows what they were and did, what they believed and taught. These, their own records, afford a safe guide to their faith and practice.
Even in the first three centuries there were numerous bodies of Christians who protested against the growing laxity and worldliness in the Church, and against its departure from the teachings of Scripture. Movements of revival have never ceased to be repeated, and even when no connection between one and another is visible, the underlying cause is the same — a desire to return to the practice of some New Testament truth. In the early centuries Asia Minor and Armenia were frequently the scene of such revivings, as well as being the refuge of churches that had from the first, in varying degree, maintained purity of doctrine and godliness of life.
The Catholic system (so called because of its claim to be the entire and exclusive Church) with its clerical rule, developed rapidly in Asia Minor, but there never ceased to be those who resisted it. As the departure from the Scriptures of the worldly churches — Greek, Latin, or Armenian — became increasingly flagrant, these separate New Testament churches denied to them the title of churches, declaring they had forfeited it by their union with the State, by the introduction of unbelievers into their circles through the system of infant baptism, by their giving the Lord’s Supper to unbelievers, and by various other evils they had introduced.
The name Paulician was frequently given to these churches. The persecutions to which they were subjected and the systematic destruction of their literature hide from us all but occasional glimpses of their history, though what remains is sufficient to show that there were in those wide regions of Asia Minor and Armenia, around Mount Ararat and beyond the Euphrates, churches of baptized believers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, who kept the teaching of the apostles — received from Christ and contained in the Scriptures — in an unbroken testimony from the first.
The claim of these numerous congregations to be the true descendants of the apostolic churches (not necessarily in a natural sense from father to son, though that might often be the case, but as having maintained in unbroken succession their spiritual characteristics) is not invalidated by the large gaps in their history of which at present we posses no account. These are the natural consequences of the determined efforts that were unceasingly made, first by the pagan Roman Empire and then by the State Churches, to destroy the people and their histories.
These efforts had, to a large extent, their intended effect. There can be no doubt that in many districts, and at different times, such efforts were entirely successful, and that priceless testimonies of believers and churches have been utterly wiped out, never to be known again until the Day of Judgment comes.
Instead it is a matter for surprise that so much has been preserved and the existence of these numerous bodies of Christians with primitive doctrine and practice can be accounted for only in the way they themselves explain it, namely, by their adherence to the New Testament teaching.
The absence of organization among them and of any earthly controlling center, with the fact that they recognized the independence of each congregation, would naturally lead to variety in the different churches. But they all claimed to draw their doctrine from the Scripture and to continue the apostolic tradition.
In the great stream of history flowing through the past two millennia, the Scriptures remain unchanged and are found to be equally applicable to all the changing conditions of life. Those who walk in the obedience of faith, whether gathered in churches or scattered through the world, find that this compass always points to Christ, of whom it testifies: “All things were made by Him” (John 1:3), and whom God sent into the world “that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:17).
Except for books like The Pilgrim Church, these lies and errors have never been corrected, and are therefore the accepted version of history. The Wikipedia articles I have referenced promote this same false history. That is why it is so vital to get your own copy of The Pilgrim Church so you can read for yourself the true history of Yeshua’s Ekklesia.
The saga continues in these additional articles in the series:
This article is 59th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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