The following passage of church history is from the second century. The reality of the corruptions of the church should ring in everyone’s ears loudly. These same corruptions are still taking place to day and on a much larger scale.
The corrupt state into which the Church had fallen in another large city, Carthage, is described in strong language by Cyprian, bishop of that place. “The Lord would prove his people; and because the divinely prescribed rule of life had been disturbed in a long interval of tranquillity, a divine judgment was sent to revive our tottering, I might almost say slumbering, faith. Forgetting how believers lived in the times of the Apostles, and how they ought always to live, Christians have laboured with insatiable desire to increase their earthly possessions. Crafty frauds were used to deceive the simple; subtle meanings, to circumvent the brethren. They united in marriage with unbelievers; they swore rashly and what was worse, they swore falsely; they spoke evil of one another with envenomed tongues; they quarrelled and hated one another. . . . The priests have neglected religion; sound faith has been wanting to the ministers; there has been no mercy in their works; no discipline in their manners. Many bishops, despising their divine charge have forsaken their sees, deserted their people, and wandered over foreign provinces to traffic for gain, whilst their brethren were starving in the Church. They have hoarded up money; they have possessed themselves of estates by fraud; they have increased their wealth by multiplied usuries. “It will be readily understood that amongst men so devoted to the world there was little strength to stand against persecution.” — Early Church History to the Death of Constantine, Pg 141
The parallels between the attitudes and behaviors of Christians and their leaders in the early church, and today’s religious leaders, continue to amaze me. When I see the same things happening today that took place in the first and second centuries, one cannot help but be amazed. What we must consider is that corruptions entered into the religious system very early. Why? Because man has a tendency to corrupt things. It’s that simple. Whatever man does is usually done for selfish causes, biases, money, personal gain, power or prestige. To think that today’s religious system is not corrupted and full of every abomination as it was in the early centuries, is ignorance. One will never see nor understand how much of the religious teachings, manuscripts, dogmas, rules, etc., have been twisted until one understands that their is corruption and is willing to do their due diligence to expose it.
Countless multitudes are blind to the corruptions. They are taught to believe lies that they have no idea are lies. They trust strangers with their lives and the lives of their families. Just because they say they are Christian, does not make them trustworthy. This is a sad reality that many overlook. The quote above is a stark realization to how many Christians are building their empires off the backs of the poor and using fraud to do it. We must wake up to this reality and work towards changing it or history will repeat itself and persecution will come; of which, no Christian will be exempt. As it was then, so it will be, even now.