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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Roman Error

Many times in discussion I make reference to what I call the “Roman error” and most times, in context, I consider that error apparent but often the replies and comments that follow lead me to believe that this error may not be so apparent to many. I had hoped to be able to offer a concise explanation of my perception. Upon reflection I have concluded that though the explanation itself may be concise, the depth and breadth of its consequences are enormous. With this in mind I have decided to state my perception here and allow any discussion that might follow to dictate any further articles on the subject.

To begin let me first state that I do not find this error inherent to any particular denomination or system of theology. I find it inherent to every denomination and system of theology save the one true system of God! While I admit that I find Roman Catholic history and dogma rife with this error I actually consider that the Roman error is on the decline in many of the Roman Catholic congregations in the US. It might even be unfair to label this error as “Roman” but I hope the explanation that follows will clarify why I credit it to Rome. To be honest I find its greatest rise and strongest proponents are found in some of the Evangelical congregations and seminaries in the US today.

The root cause for this error can be easily perceived in original sin. It is nothing less than a rejection of God; rejection of His authority, His power and His Glory and it is clearly made manifest in the sin of Adam. The root cause is also quite evident in Israel’s desire for a King. This error is the consequence of men refusing to fully submit and subject themselves in faith to God resulting in the establishment of a secular (human) system that usurps the power, authority and/or glory of God to varying degrees.

In the examples above the offense is against God but the Roman error is an offense against the person of Jesus Christ in particular. It is the consequence of men refusing to fully submit and subject themselves to Christ. I do not wish to fall into a dispute over the specific moment or manifestation of this error but I think we would all agree that historically this error is first made manifest in the Church at Rome and this is why I call it the Roman error.

The depth and breadth of the error in these secular systems seems directly proportionate to the degree which members are willing to subject them selves to Christ. Where men would refuse to submit even to the Gospel a cult is born. Where men would submit to the Gospel and believe, yet fail to subject them selves to the authority of Christ a denomination is born and with it a scripturally inverted form of government. In these inverted systems Christ is not the head but is considered a possession of the system; God is not revealed in Christ but rather through a system of theological constructs, which are the rule for faith and practice. Membership in these systems is not granted through divine means but through an agreement in theology. The great among these are not servants that feed His sheep but are rulers over the servants of another. Church discipline is defined as a punitive act toward control and relegated to the rulers rather than being the restorative responsibility of the body. I suppose I could go on for hours discussing the methods and means employed in the construction and maintenance of these systems. Members must basically abdicate their authority as priest before Christ and subsequently must fail in all their responsibilities to Him. Evangelism is either non-existent or is a secret activity to be conducted only by the rulers and in the privacy of the congregation with the primary intent of converting the congregation to a specific denominational dogma.

These are only a few of what I consider to be the defining characteristics of these systems that arise out of the Roman error and though I am persuaded that they do not reflect the Church they do reflect on the Church and only serve to obscure its witness and testimony of Christ in the world.

21 Comments:

Anonymous ron said...

KC,

Bro. KC I don't know much about the Roman error and maybe trying to correct some of it , Cause I'm still trying to correct grandpaw's errors ? I guess I'll have to get Mrs Z's favorite chewing gum and together we might learn how to walk upright ! Looking forward to reading and following comments ?

Ya'll be nice now ya hear ! As Mrs Zeke would say " Be loved you are "!

Blessings.
grandpaw .

1/22/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Ron when you get that mastered you can come on over and we can stare at the back of a CD it's shiny! Since I don't know the Roman Error either.

KC maybe you could in simple non-smart words explain. That would help. I goggled Roman Error and it asked me if I really wanted that or not... so I am thinking it has to be an extra special smart thing. :)

I wait and so does Ron for a deeper understanding.

Please send help if we wait to long and mis the answer.

Be loved you are, that means you also Ron

1/22/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bro. Ron I'll do my best to be nice! ;-)

Lady Z thanks to you and Ron both for holding my feet to the fire on this one! I'm not edumacated nuf ta be smart. My ignerence jest fooled ya! ;-)

What I call the Roman error is the attempt of men to take hold of what rightly belongs only to Christ. I think it is most clearly seen in the efforts of men to rule His Church.

I hope that's a little more clear?

1/22/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

KC, It is very clear to me, and close to what I assumed you meant by the term "Roman Error." Yea, me!

I have considered this error, maybe not in as scholarly a way as I could, but have come to a similar conclusion. This makes me try to ignore what a person says his/her church believes and ask, "But what do YOU believe." Sometimes they are in tow with the church - right or wrong and that makes me sad. The more I ask, I find that the brothers and sisters I regularly fellowship with - on Sundays and Internetdays - all have many different ideas and opinions of the scriptures, but most are attempting to subject themselves to Christ alone. That makes me happy. If we could all be unified under that simple belief, God will work the rest out??

1/22/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

KC - I just tagged you for a book Meme. I'd love to see what books you list :o)

I'll be back to comment on this very important post.
Susan

1/22/2008 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Hear, hear.

I couldn't have said it better myself, and I certainly wouldn't have said it as nicely.

How difficult it is to let the Christ be the Lord when we seat a man on His throne.

1/22/2008 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

"To begin let me first state that I do not find this error inherent to any particular denomination or system of theology. I find it inherent to every denomination and system of theology save the one true system of God!"....

"These are only a few of what I consider to be the defining characteristics of these systems that arise out of the Roman error and though I am persuaded that they do not reflect the Church they do reflect on the Church and only serve to obscure its witness and testimony of Christ in the world."


AMEN!

I feel the unity bro!

Colossians 2:8(my personal mantra)

8 "see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world"(secular/human systems)

Dorsey, my man. Good to see you, even if it is meeting in KC's alley.
Would you say what KC has said is a little bit more eloquent of a "Papal smackdown" of a beady eyed man holding "dead man on a stick"

LOLOLOL

1/23/2008 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Correction, dang it.

Colossians 2:8(my personal mantra)

8 "see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world(secular/human systems), rather than according to Christ.

Sorry

1/23/2008 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

I love Missy's comment and couldn't agree more.

ANYTHING that takes our eyes and dependence off Jesus would fall in the category of which you are speaking, to my way of thinking.

I appreciate Kris quoting Colossians 2:8 . The "see to it" clearly puts the responsibility solely on our shoulders!!!
Susan

1/23/2008 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy we certainly seem to be eye-to-eye on this one. I find that very reassuring. ;-)

Ms. Susan I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. ;-( The only spiritual reading I do and have done for some time, apart from scripture, is mostly for research on Church history. I rarely complete a whole book unless it is small. I answered this Meme some time ago here and sadly, with the exception of my work related books, my answers now are the same. I am still very honored and humbled to be picked by you! ;-)

I’m glad you’re in concert with Missy on this and I totally agree that Kris nailed one of the best verses that warn of this error. ;-)

Dorse perhaps you wouldn’t have said it as nicely but I have no doubt it would have been, not only concise, but also crystal clear!

”How difficult it is to let the Christ be the Lord when we seat a man on His throne.”

Absolutely impossible I’d say! (Another great Dorsism?) ;-)

Kris? You see my blog as some backstreet alley? Pehaps the underbelly of the web in your eyes???? Hmmmmm????!!!! (hehe)

It’s great to read your thoughts here again. I too feel the unity brother and frankly I’m a bit relieved! This can be a touchy subject you know.

Great scriptural application as always! (Be sure to give our love and our best to all) ;-)

BTW I think we need to quickly make a distinction between Dorsism and Dorsiest sarcasim and humor (hehe).

To all:

In the interest of maintaining the proper attitude in this I think I should point out that we’re all guilty of the Roman error on a personal basis when we fail to fully submit to our Lord.

1/23/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Amen to that last part, KC. That's why it makes me sad and not angr-rrrrr-y (unless it's directed at self - I usually grrr then)!

1/23/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks Sis. We need to address that self pointed anger! ;-)

1/23/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous ron said...

KC,

I musta guessed close to ya'll's last 2 comments when I stated " that I'm still working on grandpaw's errors " ?

Blessings.
grandpa.

1/23/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Brother Ron your comments here most always seem to reflect the proper attitude. ;-)

1/24/2008 04:03:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I'm with grandpa.

I'm trying to pin down the "Dorsian Error", but there are too many to choose from. They're all so fun, I can't pick a favorite!
;)

1/24/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Along with Ron and Mrs Zeke, I was confused as to what the Roman Error was (is). But I noticed the definition in the comments that followed.

1/24/2008 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I'll write on the Dorsian error next (hehe).

Sorry you had to hunt Pech. I can see I obsured the definition with all the pre and post considerations.

1/24/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

This is quite an intriguing post, KC, and as usual, I am a bit late in responding. In all honesty, I have been chewing on this for a day or so.

I agree in principle with you concerning the definition of the Roman error. It seems that this error is very similar, if not identical to the doctrine of the Nicolaitines that is denounced in Revelation.

While it does seem that about every denomination in history has strayed into this error to some degree, I'm not sure that the error is inherent in denominationalism as much as it is indicative of the weaknesses of those in leadership in those denominations.

It goes without saying that those denominations that are set up to control churches are flawed out of the gate.

However, some denominations were born out of a desire for cooperation between local churches in areas of missions, ministry, education, etc., realizing that several or many could do much more than one alone could. Within any such cooperation, there must be leadership and a basic ground of agreement theologically. I do not see this as usurping the headship of Christ over the church, in fact, I find that it is consistent with what the NT teaches about church fellowship.

The problem lies when the focus of the denomination becomes more about the leadership than it does about the Lordship. The hierarchies, abuses of church discipline, and other maladies that you mentioned begin to appear at this point. Unfortunately, this seems to happen entirely too often.

Therefore, I would say that the problem lies with sinful pride in the heart of man (which was the heart of the original sin as you mentioned) rather than the attempts at cooperation for the sake of the Gospel.

Again, I appreciate the post. I had often wondered what you meant when you referred to "the Roman error" but never got around to asking you. I apologize for such a lengthy comment.

1/24/2008 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Preacher I am confident that we agree, not only in principal, but in spirit as well. I know this is no small matter and I would expect nothing less from you than prayerful consideration and that necessitates that we take the time necessary for a fruitful discussion. I sympathize and even agree with most of what you have written.

“While it does seem that about every denomination in history has strayed into this error to some degree, I'm not sure that the error is inherent in denominationalism as much as it is indicative of the weaknesses of those in leadership in those denominations.”

Would you agree that the place, purpose and function of a denomination within the body of Christ would need to be established prior to defining the role of its leader(s)? My hope is that once we have clearly identified the effect of Denominationalism the leadership role will become apparent.

”It goes without saying that those denominations that are set up to control churches are flawed out of the gate.”

On this we totally agree leaving only the task of identifying any denomination(s) that was/were created for any purpose(s) other than this.

”However, some denominations were born out of a desire for cooperation between local churches in areas of missions, ministry, education, etc., realizing that several or many could do much more than one alone could.“

There are numerous organized efforts that come to mind that exemplify the work you detailed here yet I am unaware of the existence of a single denomination that was formed with these works as a primary objective.

A secondary thought here, but I think critical to our discussion, is the concept of a local Church versus a local congregation or the Church at a given locale.

“Within any such cooperation, there must be leadership and a basic ground of agreement theologically. I do not see this as usurping the headship of Christ over the church, in fact, I find that it is consistent with what the NT teaches about church fellowship.”

In a very broad sense of the term I agree that we absolutely must share a common theology, specifically that we relate with God only in and through Christ Jesus but in this case wouldn’t our denomination simply be called Christian? I would also say that for these efforts to be faithful to the teachings of our Lord there must be a clear distinction between leadership and administration and that the organizations remain completely free of any legislative actions. Their leaders must remain servants and their administration must never be legislative.

”The problem lies when the focus of the denomination becomes more about the leadership than it does about the Lordship. The hierarchies, abuses of church discipline, and other maladies that you mentioned begin to appear at this point. Unfortunately, this seems to happen entirely too often.

Therefore, I would say that the problem lies with sinful pride in the heart of man (which was the heart of the original sin as you mentioned) rather than the attempts at cooperation for the sake of the Gospel.”


Once more we would need only identify once such denomination where this is not the case.

”Again, I appreciate the post. I had often wondered what you meant when you referred to "the Roman error" but never got around to asking you. I apologize for such a lengthy comment.”

Preacher my confidence in you is such that if you had the time to maintain this blog I would gladly turn it over to you completely. Please always take as much space as you will and if ever you wish to post an article here in rebuttal or otherwise you need only to mention it.

;-)

1/25/2008 04:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Gordon Cloud said...

Hi, KC, I apologize for being so late in responding. I tried a couple of times over the weekend, but for some reason Blogger wouldn't let me.

Would you agree that the place, purpose and function of a denomination within the body of Christ would need to be established prior to defining the role of its leader(s)? My hope is that once we have clearly identified the effect of Denominationalism the leadership role will become apparent.

I would say that is necessary of any ministry endeavor whether it is a denomination or any other cooperative function.

There are numerous organized efforts that come to mind that exemplify the work you detailed here yet I am unaware of the existence of a single denomination that was formed with these works as a primary objective.

I do not claim to be an expert in church history, but to the best of my understanding, based upon what I have learned about the Southern Baptist Convention, it was founded for just such a purpose. The very first endeavors were foreign missions, printing of literature and the formation of Furman University (which, of course, has since flown the coop) for the purpose of training ministerial students.

I would also say that for these efforts to be faithful to the teachings of our Lord there must be a clear distinction between leadership and administration and that the organizations remain completely free of any legislative actions. Their leaders must remain servants and their administration must never be legislative.

Again I would agree with you. Any denomination that exists should exist for the purpose of serving its member churches and not controlling them. I do believe in the autonomy of the local body.

As for your last paragraph, I am truly humbled. You and your blog have always been a great blessing to me. I still look forward to sitting down with you one day and fellowshipping over a nice steak. :-)

1/28/2008 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Preacher your thoughts here have convinced me that we are in agreement in spirit on this even though we don’t share a common historical perspective. I do think it safe to say that if you started a denomination I would have no problem associating myself with it. ;-)

I really wish to avoid causing offense to anyone who holds a strong sympathy for their denomination but I do hope to encourage everyone to examine the origin, purpose and function of any organization they might associate with and see if it has truly served to unite the body in Christ or divide it among men. My studies have led me to perceive that,as a rule, any movement or cause that edified the body was absorbed into the body and lost its particular identity. I further find that those movements and causes brought on by strife and contention have only grown in distinction.

1/29/2008 05:37:00 AM  

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