We have been trained from a young age to cherry pick certain Scriptures, formulate our own doctrines and make the Bible say what we want it to say, rather than learn the truth. Little to no consideration is given to the historical, cultural or scriptural context of what was written.
This has resulted in a sound-byte gospel that is totally devoid of certainty and is open to interpretation and manipulation.
I understand very well that I cannot encapsulate everything that has occurred in history, but I do believe that I can touch on the points that are crucial to what pertains to the history of the church and to the modification/morphing of the original faith in our Messiah.
Although we will not get into the specifics of the python spirit in this post like we did the others, I feel the need to discuss a couple seemingly unrelated topics in order to provide the necessary backdrop for what you will read moving forward. I want to let you know ahead of time that it may seem like you are reading 2 posts in 1, but there is a purpose for this that will become evident later on in the series.
This information must be understood and absorbed before we move on because it definitely comes into play from the time of Christ’s resurrection onward.
I appreciate you hanging in there with me and weighing this out.
What is Acceptable Worship?
Before we move forward in this study, I need to have you settle something in your thinking.
We have been raised with a very lackadaisical and, quite frankly, disrespectful approach towards the worship of our Creator. The system of worship we have been indoctrinated into is a nebulous system based upon intent, emotions and the perceived outcome rather than defined methods, concrete action and a heart of submission to the commandments of Yahweh.
As a result of this ideology, anyone who says “Hallelujah!” with raised hands and a tearful eye is perceived as someone offering acceptable worship to the Father.
But the Creator never purposed worship to be an emotional “have-it-your-way” experience. He has a way He likes to be worshipped, and if we don’t go along with His way of doing things, our worship is not received.
This is very difficult for us as Western believers to understand and accept because they we been so brainwashed by the show of Christian worship services. We cannot fathom the idea that obedience has anything to do with our worship. In our thinking, worship is “something you do on Sunday morning” or “something you do when music is playing.”
It’s Not Just Shoutin’ “Hallelujah!”
But I’m going to prove to you with simple logic that it’s not only the Name of Yahweh on our lips that determines whether or not our worship is acceptable, but it is also greatly determined by our obedience to His commandments.
No, I’m serious. Worship the name of Jesus all you like… praise the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with intensity and emotion. If you’re not at least attempting to obey His commands, it means nothing… in fact, it’s downright repulsive.
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law [Torah], even his prayer is an abomination.
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
If your God doesn’t change like my doesn’t God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6), then this scriptural plumbline doesn’t change either. And get this…
The Blood and the Name of Christ do not make abominable practices acceptable to the unchangeable God – Guaranteed.
Knowing this, the idea that the intent of our hearts and emotionalism could trump Scripture should defy logic to those who profess to believe in the Bible.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
Speaking of logic, let’s apply a little. I’m going to start off with an extreme (and somewhat disturbing) example.
If I were to walk into the middle of a candlelit pentagram and sacrifice an innocent baby, it would be a heinous, evil and repulsive act.
But what if I were to offer thanksgiving and praise to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while performing this act? Would it all-of-a-sudden be “sanctified” unto Yahweh? Would the words that came out of my mouth take away the utter abomination of what I had done?
Let’s take it a little bit further.
What if I was taught from a young age that this was the acceptable method for worshiping Yahweh? Would the intent of my heart sanctify the offering and make it acceptable to Yahweh?
I hope that you are all responding with a resounding “NO!”
OK, I admit that that was really “off the wall.” Let me ratchet it down a few notches but apply the same logic.
What if I found a Buddha statue and bowed down before it as I lit incense?
Isn’t that idolatry? Of course.
What if I happen to say, “I love you, Jesus?” Would that suddenly make my actions “holy”? Would idolatry no longer be considered idolatry because of my words?
What if I had been taught from a young age that this was an acceptable method of worship to Yahweh? Would my upbringing and the intent of my heart nullify the idolatry?
Again… I would hope you’d say “no.”
OK, let’s take it just a little further and apply the same logic.
What if I participated in Christmas and Easter? Now, before you throw the walls up, let’s just get real here.
You and I both know that any honest study will reveal the occult roots of these holidays, yet Christians willingly participate in Christmas and Easter every year, reasoning that because they may think and talk about Jesus and their “heart is in the right place,” that somehow this makes their participation “sanctified.”
And I completely understand, you were raised with this reasoning. It’s an integral part of your religious experience, so it’s really difficult to overcome this mindset.
But you can’t get around it. If you apply the same logic, your words, thoughts and intents do not make your worship “sanctified” … it’s still idolatry.
These three examples demonstrate an unavoidable truth. No matter what words come out of your mouth, no matter what your upbringing, no matter what the intent of the heart is, no matter what your reasoning is, your actions determine who you are worshipping.
Not only is this evidenced by simple logic, but Scripture will show us the same thing.
Worship – His Way vs. Our Ways
The Father has a way He wants to be worshipped and, if you don’t do it His Way, by default you are walking in disobedience and worshipping other gods.
Cain and Abel
Cain and Abel both intended to offer sacrifices to the same God. Abel’s offering was accepted. Cain’s offering was rejected.
The unchangeable God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob said to Cain:
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin (transgression of the law) lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.
The offering of Cain was rejected because he sinned in that he thought that he could offer what he thought was pleasing to Yahweh and not what Yahweh knew was pleasing to Yahweh.
In this example, Cain thought he was worshipping Yahweh, when in fact, he was worshipping the most common idol – self.
Fresh out of Egypt, and in spite of the fact that Yah had just told them not to make a graven image, Aaron created a golden object of worship that was very familiar to the children of Israel, Apis, the fertility god.
Aaron declared, “This is the God that brought you out of Egypt!” He even built an altar for sacrificing (worship) and declared, “Tomorrow is a Feast unto YHWH!”
Even though Aaron slapped a Yahweh sticker on his man-made system of worship, and even though it was accepted by the children of Israel, the Father did not approve. This was not the way He commanded them to worship Him.
3,000 men would die because of this presumption.
Nadab and Abihu
Nadab and Abihu had just witnessed the fire of Yah come down and consume the burnt offerings.
In their zeal and excitement, they decided to worship God their way instead of His way.
Their intentions were probably good, but their worship was not according to the way the Father wanted to be worshipped.
They paid for their presumption with their lives.
Jeroboam, because he was afraid the 10 tribes would turn back to Jerusalem and the house of David (1 Kings 12:26-7), constructed two golden calves and, in an appeal to a person’s desire for convenience, said:
It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!
Furthering this error, he hired his own priests and ordained his own holidays (1 Kings 12:31-33).
Is this starting to sound familiar?
This act of replacing the Father’s system of worship with a man-made system of worship became known as “the sin of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 12:30, 13:33-34) This was the sin that would be a stain upon the house of Israel from that time forward.
And guess what? The Church Fathers were guilty of the exact same sin.
And so is the Church … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
To sum up this section before moving forward, God does not receive your worship just because you name His name. While that is a legitimate part of the worship experience, it is not the sole qualifier. Your worship is legitimized by the practices you perform.
The Truth is Humbling
I hope this settles the issue in your heart, because what I’m about to share in the next few posts is going to shake you up a bit.
In fact, I guarantee that the rest of this post – heck, the rest of the “Irony of the Church Fathers” series – is going completely clash with the framework that you have learned in the Christian religion. You are going to be tempted to want to just stop reading and say, “Enough! This guy’s a kook!”
Please don’t do that. I’m going to save you the trouble … I confess, I am “a kook” … but you can’t argue with history and you can’t argue with the Word. Even if you absolutely despise me and the things I’m saying, you’re supposed to have a love for the truth.
Remember, HonorOfKings.org is about “searching out the matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)
Ask yourself this question … “Do I really want to KNOW the truth, or do I want to continue with what I THINK is the truth?”
HonorOfKings.org reaches a wide range of people, 95% of whom are Christians or those who claim to believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Son of God and all the other basic “christian” doctrines.
From what I can tell, the only ones who stick around are those who have had their eyes opened and realize that, for some reason, not all is well in Churchville. I’m telling you, there is a reason for this.
Don’t worry, friend, I’m going to lead you CLOSER to the Father, not further away. Keep going, it’s worth it!
Now, on to a major influence in Christianity…
The Rise of Hellenic Worship Practices
From the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) until the emergence of the Roman empire (in 31 BC), the known world saw the rise of the influence of Hellenism. In a nutshell, Hellenism – largely influenced by Alexander’s tutor Aristotle – refers to the culture and value system of Greece.
When Rome took over the known world, rather than annihilate the influence of Hellenism, it absorbed and promoted many, if not most, of the Greek philosophies and values – hence the name “Greco-Roman Empire.”
The famous Roman poet, Horace, said,
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.
(“Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror.”)
This adoption of the Greek way of life included the worship of their gods. The Romans changed the names of these gods to maintain some sort of individuality, but the character traits and customs were the same.
Zeus -> Jupiter
Hera -> Juno
Poseidon -> Neptune
Hades -> Pluto
… and so forth
This practice of changing a foreign god’s name into the name of a Roman deity, while allowing the conquered nation to retain their pagan traditions, would be retained by the Roman Catholic Church from that time forward in history.
Now, if my guess is correct, not one of you reading this post would have a problem saying that when a Roman offered a sacrifice to Jupiter, he was actually offering a sacrifice to Zeus, as it was just the same god with two different names.
But the Roman offering the sacrifice, who had been raised during that time period, would disagree vehemently. He would be fully convinced that he was offering to Jupiter, and Jupiter alone.
But we have the advantage of hindsight as well as a neutrality that the Roman worshipper did not have. We can see clearly what he could not see. Oh, he probably felt that his “heart was in the right place” in wanting to offer to Jupiter, but to us, the truth of the matter is painfully obvious.
Hellenism’s Impact on the Early Faith 101
The impact of Hellenism upon Jewish culture and the early faith is rather complex. Rome invaded Israel in the 1st century BC and brought with it the values and culture of the Greco-Roman Empire in the form of Hellenistic/Greek culture, philosophy and values.
The Hebrew way of life and the Greek way of life are diametrically opposed to one another. An excellent study on the differences between the two systems can be found in Brad Scott’s “Hebrew Mind vs. Greek Mind” series. Anyone who has not spent the time reading this series needs to do so.
The value system of Hellenism is very intricate, but there are two pertinent ideals that I want to focus on in this study – ideals that opposed, deeply affected and helped to transform the face of our faith.
- Abstract thinking
Abstract vs. Concrete Thinking
Ever since Creation, the Father had a “way” – a “derek” in Hebrew – that He wanted man to follow. It was firm, steadfast and very real.
Adam, as a created being, had to be taught, so Yah would would walk and talk with him in the garden, teaching him His way (“derek”) and how to fulfill the commands given to him.
Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
There were no deviations, no “different possibilities,” and there was “no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17b)
The Father established the concrete way of thinking and He expected His man to maintain the same type of thinking and value system.
From that point forward, the instructions He gave to Israel were always very practical and easily understood. For the most part, His instructions had to do with the here and now.
Ezekiel – Abstraction with an Explanation
That’s not to say that there was no symbolism or allegory used in the Word of Yah before the Messiah appeared, but the meanings of these abstractions were normally understood by the person to whom they were given.
The two examples that come to mind pertain to the prophet Ezekiel.
When Ezekiel saw the vision of the wheels, he knew exactly what they were.
Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
Ezekiel never said, “I was perplexed because I could not perceive the vision.” or “God? Why does your glory appear to me like a bunch of wheels?”
No, Ezekiel looked at the wheels and said, “That looks like the glory of YHWH!”
Later on, in the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, Ezekiel relays his experience of seeing in a vision a bunch of dead bones. The prophet prophesies to the bones and they raise up as a mighty army.
Immediately, the Spirit tells the prophet, “This is the whole house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11a)
It is in these examples (as well as others) that we see that whenever there was an abstraction used in the Tanakh, there was always an accompanying interpretation … always an inherent understanding or immediate revelation.
The only reason that we modern christians come up with so many different interpretations of these Scriptures that are foreign to us is because we are relatively clueless as to what it was like to live in Old Testament times.
We are, however, saturated with Greek thinking.
The Ambiguity of Greek Abstractions
Dictionary.com defines the word “abstract” as “thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances” and “theoretical; not applied or practical.” 
You can see this abstract mindset in the words of Pilate.
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Yeshua answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Due to the influence of Socrates (470/469 BC to 399 BC), who taught Plato (428/427 or 424/423 BC to 348/347 BC), who taught Aristotle (384 BC to 322 BC), who in turn taught Alexander the Great, Greek culture was saturated with abstract thinking.
Abstract thinking is a level of thinking about things that is removed from the facts of the “here and now”, and from specific examples of the things or concepts being thought about. Abstract thinkers are able to reflect on events and ideas, and on attributes and relationships separate from the objects that have those attributes or share those relationships. Thus, for example, a concrete thinker can think about this particular dog; a more abstract thinker can think about dogs in general. A concrete thinker can think about this dog on this rug; a more abstract thinker can think about spatial relations, like “on”. A concrete thinker can see that this ball is big; a more abstract thinker can think about size in general. A concrete thinker can count three cookies; a more abstract thinker can think about numbers. A concrete thinker can recognize that John likes Betty; a more abstract thinker can reflect on emotions, like affection…this is how great philosophers, like Socrates and Plato, taught their pupils how to think abstractly. 
The Romans’ tendency to think abstractly was further complicated by their worship of many gods. They perceived the gods as fickle and relatively unconcerned with humanity, so the average Roman citizen really couldn’t depend on any consistent behavior coming from his/her chosen deity.
So Pilate wasn’t the only one who thought that truth was unattainable.
Because of this inherent uncertainty in all things (and especially the ethereal), Hellenism spawned many “schools of thought.”
- Hellenistic Judaism
- Hellenistic Christianity
All of these philosophies were around before and after the first appearance of the Messiah and they were all rooted in Greek-Hellenistic thought.
And the church fathers were very influenced by – and even adopted – some of the principles that stemmed from Hellenistic religious thought.
Indeed philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ.” – Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6:8
This error placed the concrete doctrines and practices that were handed to us by the Father into the realm of the ambiguousness inherent in Hellenistic philosophy, which forced the abstract upon something that should have been much more concrete.
Were Clement of Alexandria alive today, I would LOVE the opportunity to ask him, “How did that work for ya, bub?”
You can easily see the fruit of the Greek influence on the Christian faith today.
In 2000 years, Christianity has gone from 1 to 44,000 denominations (give or take).
They can’t agree on most things, and some will even fight you to make a point.
Thankfully, most of the sectarians are more peaceful, but they still resign themselves to a “Well, I guess we’ll never know until we get to the other side, so let’s just try to get along” (unless you’re on Facebook, then we can just thrash each other) point of view.
While the “great” philosophers would nod their heads in approval at this show of Hellenism, the enemy of our souls would laugh and the Father would shed a tear.
Right before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Son prayed:
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
This unity that the Messiah prayed for was not a false unity centered around good feelings, verbal assent or some cohesive “vibe.”
This unity that the Messiah prayed for – almost as a “dying wish” – was for His ekklesia to be unified the way He and His Father were unified … saying the same words (John 3:34, 14:24) and doing the Father’s will (John 5:30).
Yeshua was well acquainted with the deceitfulness of abstract, Hellenistic thought … it permeated the very people among whom He walked.
And it has grown even more powerful and influential over the last couple of millennia.
Hellenism is the reason we as christians find it all-too-easy to put our own slants on Scripture. It is the reason so many can look at the same scripture, yet come up with so many different interpretations, making something that used to be concrete into something relative.
The application of Hellenistic understanding in interpreting prophecy is why a christian can endorse a rapture – or pseudo-rapture – theology and remain completely ignorant of the many prophecies regarding the Second Exodus of Israel given in the Tanakh. All they have to do is interpret the New Testament the way they see it, or the way they have been taught.
The influence of Hellenistic reasoning enables us to embrace, and give precedence to, the New Testament and virtually ignore what the New Testament people considered “the Word of God.” The sad irony is that you will never find a reference in the New Testament that instructs us to revere the New Testament “Scripture.” I challenge anyone to prove me wrong on this claim. 
So who told us to revere the New Testament as “Scripture?” We’ll find that out later in the series.
Lastly, our Hellenistic understanding gives us the ability (or disability) to ignore 4,000 years of God describing His nature … who He is … what He wants in a people … and embrace a few select verses in the New Testament (Greek to English translation) arriving at the conclusion that our unchangeable God has actually changed, and now all these things no longer matter.
… because, you see … “it’s all relative! Just as long as your heart is in the right place!”
With all this uncertainty … all this subjectivity … all this “grey area,” it is no wonder that the world looks at us – people who claim to know “the Truth” – and hears the very words of Pilate:
“What is Truth?”
I hope that this post has given you a lot to consider.
In the next post, we will discuss another Hellenistic ideal – conquest. Please remember what you have read in this post; it will definitely come into play later, as we study how the Spirit of Python and the Church Fathers … blend.
No, I’m serious. Just wait, I will show you how this came about.