The Great Apostasy refers to a radical corruption or total loss of the authentic and pure Christian faith and practice as taught by the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus and the New Testament. Apostasy differs entirely from Heresy.
- 1 Total abandonment of belief
- 2 Past apostasy
- 2.1 The Orthodox Catholic Church
- 2.2 Historical silence
- 3 Future apostasy
- 4 Polemics: misuse and abuse of "apostasy"
- 5 Hebrews 6:4-6: the crucifying of Christ again
- 6 References
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
Total abandonment of belief
Apostasy a fide or perfidiæ is the complete and voluntary abandonment of the Christian religion by an individual, whether the apostate embraces another religion such as Paganism, Judaism, cults, or other belief, or merely makes profession of Naturalism, Rationalism, Atheism, Humanism, Agnosticism, Islam or any other non-Christian worldview. The heretic differs from the apostate in that he or she only denies one or more of the doctrines of revealed religion, not all of them, whereas the apostate denies the entire religion itself either implicitly or explicitly, a sin which has always been looked upon by adherents of the major world religions as one of the most grievous. The Christian who becomes apostate no longer claims to be a Christian, in thought, word and deed. In Catholicism, apostasy is a mortal sin.
Various Christian denominations and groups proclaim that the Great Apostasy is a fact of history. The common theme they advance is that the message of Christianity, taught by Jesus and his apostles, was lost sometime in the centuries following the death of the last of the apostles, and that the whole Church herself, the Bride of Christ, finally apostatized. Each denominational and non-denominational group is, in its own way, attempting to restore the original gospel.
The Orthodox Catholic Church
While non-Catholic Christians range far and wide on their theology and practice, the one thing they all do agree on is their opposition to the Catholic Church, and their belief that the Catholic Church is solely responsible for 'corrupting' the 'authentic and pure' Christian faith by compromise with paganism. They also see the Orthodox churches as independently collaborating in the corruption of Christian doctrine by their early compromise with Greek philosophy and pagan mystery religions. They are seen as "preaching another Jesus, having a different spirit, accepting a different gospel" from the one they first accepted in the first century from the apostles (see 2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
In many circles, this radical corruption of the Gospel by the forces of Catholicism is called 'The Great Apostasy' or 'a great apostasy' or just 'apostasy'. This teaching or warning regarding Catholic and Orthodox teachings is found in all Western non-Catholic denominations and groups, which includes Protestantism (both traditional and evangelical), as well as Mormonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower), Seventh-day Adventist Churches, Baptists and various other groups. Many of these groups warn that anyone who accepts and holds to the doctrines of the Catholic Church are "separated from Christ", and, along with all those who preach false doctrine, he or she will be condemned to hell together with the Devil and his angels.
Catholic apologists answer that many persons have individually apostatized, do apostatize, and will apostatize, even gathering followers to themselves, as Scripture has testified. However, they also point out that every known secular and theological definition of "apostasy" specifies that it is the departure of an individual from a religion or belief system, not a whole corporate departure en masse, and that the Bible nowhere says that the whole Church that Jesus founded ever will or ever can apostatize, and that such a falling away from Him is an impossibility, given the promises that He Himself has made, together with the inspired apostolic doctrine that the Church itself is the "pillar and foundation of truth", and given the commandment to "obey your leaders" and "hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter", and given the fact that "through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places", and that "it is impossible for God to lie". They emphasize that the whole Church cannot be charged with such a monumental act of explicit apostasy unless every single member of the whole Church agreed to abandon Christ and his teaching, renounced Christianity, denied that they are Christians, and all apostatized at the same time. The utter and complete repudiation of one's religion is apostasy. But no historical documentation of such an occurrence has ever been produced, the exact historical date of the occurrence is never given, and the names of the leaders of the great apostasy are not given. There has never been an ecumenical council which decreed that the whole Church shall embrace abandonment of Christ or declared his teaching to be false. That would be apostasy. In the history of Christianity all significant and influential names are known. All Ecumenical Councils and their debates and documents are records of fact. All the names of Popes and Bishops are known. All the names of the Protestant Reformers are known. All the names of heretics since the first century are known. But the exact historical date of actual implementation of the Great Apostasy is unknown, the date when all former Christian doctrines were to be condemned, removed and replaced with completely non-Christian teaching. There has never been a time in Christian history when the Catholic and Orthodox Churches claimed they are no longer Christian. That would be apostasy. Those who teach that the monumentally catastrophic sin of the Great Apostasy is an historical fact do not agree when it occurred, and their apologists and proponents appear unable to offer any objective, externally verifiable evidence that it ever did.
The Ante-Nicene Fathers
Those who defend the assertion of historical fact for the Great Apostasy of the Catholic Church point out that all of the false doctrine and practice of Catholicism only gradually developed, with incremental, and cumulative, subtle deviations from the truth by a process of syncretism, beginning as early as the first century, which by the time of the Middle Ages had developed into a complete and total condition of apostasy with no truth or spiritual understanding remaining in it. They see the development of the Great Apostasy as a pathological form of spiritual cancer which grew slowly over the centuries and spread until the whole body was entirely and terminally diseased. In the language of Isaiah 1:4-6
- "Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil."
They unhesitatingly submit that the Catholic Church only claims to have the name of Christian, as a terminally ill and actively dying man, on life-support and riddled with disease, in complete denial claims to be perfectly healthy. They see no good in the Catholic Church, only "doctrines of devils"
- "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, of if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
Every Catholic appeal to the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers as demonstrations of the apostolic origin and root of Catholic doctrine and dogma is rejected on the ground that those writings only clearly demonstrate how early the false and corrupt apostate doctrines of Catholicism began to develop in the Church—which only proves to those who reject Catholic doctrine and dogma that a great apostasy must have occurred. Catholic apologists see this as a logical fallacy. They protest that a great apostasy of the whole Church is rooted in one fundamental premise: that Jesus did not keep his promises.
- Churches professing Apostolic succession hold that the Ante-Nicene Fathers only articulate or express the original, authentic apostolic Christian doctrine that was faithfully handed on by word of mouth and guarded by the Holy Spirit in the full deposit of the faith handed on once and for all to the apostles of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 1:13-14 and 2:1-2, 14-15; 1 John 2:24; 2 John 9-11; Jude 3).
- Churches professing the rule of sola scriptura hold that every doctrine in the Ante-Nicene Fathers not explicitly set forth in the Protestant canon of the inspired 66 books of the Holy Bible is a deviant attempt by the writers to corrupt the pure Christian Gospel of salvation by syncretistically introducing pagan beliefs and practices (1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:7-8; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:15-17 and 4:3-4; 2 Peter 3:17-18).
See these logical fallacies: Confirmation bias, No true Scotsman, Black-swan fallacy, Cherry picking, Your theory does not work under my theory, so your theory must be wrong, Fallacy of invincible ignorance, Circular reasoning.
The very early Fathers who lived around the proposed time of the Great Apostasy include Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Irenaeus and others. Most of these men knew the apostles personally, and were personally taught by them, and their writings are well-documented and can easily be obtained. Many students of history have been shocked to discover that these men consistently teach identifiably Catholic doctrines. It is clear that these Fathers were not teaching either Mormon or Fundamentalist doctrines. This means that either they were part of the great apostasy which led to the Catholic Church, or that the theory of a Great Apostasy is false.
Compare the following three non-Catholic articles:
- The "Early Church Fathers" were Catholic, by Darwin Fish (atruechurch.info) the Fathers taught false doctrines
- Sola Scriptura and the Early Church, by William Webster (christiantruth.com) the Fathers taught biblical doctrines
- Lord's Day??? Analysis of Common Quotations from The Church "Fathers" Concerning the Lord's Day, by Bob Pickle the Sun-day fraud
Compare the following orthodox catholic articles on apostolic tradition:
- Early Teachings on Infant Baptism (catholic.com) "the promise is to you and to your children" Acts 2:39
- Mary: Mother of God (catholic.com) "the mother of my Lord" Luke 1:43
- No Graven Image: Icons and Their Proper Use (antiochian.org) "before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you" Galatians 3:1
- Early Church Fathers on Ordination and Priesthood (practicalapologetics.blogspot.com) "I have chosen you, and ordained you" John 15:16 "the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (priests) 1 Timothy 4:14 See etymology of the English word "priest" from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος "prěsbǔtěros".
- Epistles of Ignatius (conservapedia.com) "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life" John 6:54 Greek τρώγων trogō "eateth" (KJV) is literally to "divide food with your teeth", literally "chew" or "crunch"—it has no figurative meaning. See Strong's number 5176.
- Early Christians Believed in the Real Presence (therealpresence.org) "this is my body" 1 Corinthians 11:24
- The Papacy: What did the Early Church Fathers say? (americancatholictruthsociety.com) "Obey your leaders and submit to them" Hebrews 13:17
- Sabbath or Sunday? (catholic.com) "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread" Acts 20:7
Apostolic Tradition: divergent interpretations
Orthodox and Catholic apologists define Apostolic Tradition as the traditional mode of interpretation of scriptural doctrine, preserving and expounding what God has revealed in the Bible, not a body of doctrines developed separately from the Bible. The understanding of the whole of the consistent Christian tradition of interpreting the Bible as consistently retained within the orthodox catholic Christian community (the sensus fidei) is always appealed to when there is disagreement on the meaning of biblical texts: thus, "all Apostolic Tradition is rooted in Sacred Scripture". See the following articles:
- Basic Catholic Beliefs and Practices (ancient-future.net)
- Holy Scriptures And The Traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church: A Review of the Foundational Teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church From Biblical and Historical Perspectives (gospelfororthodox.file.wordpress.com)
- Catholic Tradition: Life in the Spirit (beginningcatholic.com)
- Twenty One Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura, by Joel Peters (catholicapologetics.info)
Protestant Evangelical Christian apologists define Apostolic Tradition as a complete departure from scriptural doctrine: "the traditions of men". The principle of interpretation according to sola scriptura is appealed to for refuting all appeals to Apostolic Tradition: thus, "the Catholic and Orthodox doctrines rooted in Apostolic Tradition cannot be found in the Bible". See the following articles:
- Scriptures were more important than tradition to Apostolic Fathers (bible.ca) man-made rules and doctrine
- What are some arguments against Apostolic Tradition?, by Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie the best Catholic arguments in favor of an additional authority to Scripture, infallible tradition, are all found wanting
- A Biblical Refutation of the Roman Catholic View of Authority (reformedonline.com) the Papal church's concept of tradition is a gigantic fraud
- Apostasy in the Church and false doctrines of men, by Don Koenig (thepropheticyears.com) all mainstream churches including most Protestant and Independent churches are apostate—there are very few true Christians today
There is no mention in any of the writings of the early Fathers of a great apostasy of the whole Church or any sort of battle for the faith on such a scale. They mention individual heretics and certain heretical movements, but there is no mention of any sort of total apostasy. If it is assumed that the Church Fathers were part of the apostasy then it is likely that the Church Fathers would have mentioned their newly developed doctrine as a contrast in condemnation of the Christians who still stubbornly remained faithful to the older apostolic teachings! But there is no sign in the writings of the Church Fathers of such a controversy, nor are there any other writings which support the notion of a mass apostasy from the true faith. History is totally silent. History mentions other great splits and schisms within the Church (such as the Ebionites, Arianism, the Great Schism between the Orthodox and the Catholics in 1054, and the Protestant Reformation which began in 1517) but about this massive schism there is total silence.
However, this assertion of total silence is debatable from the standpoint of those who have been excommunicated. Those who put forth theological or religious opinions or doctrines maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the 'catholic' or 'orthodox' doctrine of the Christian Church, were themselves not silent about what they regarded as a massive defection from the truth by the leading authorities and heads of the Christian Church. History knows them officially as those who were formally condemned by the Church and labelled as "heretics" for their teachings. Each of them was excommunicated for teaching a "different gospel" (Galatians 1:6). Some of these claimed to be authentically proven prophets of God by signs and wonders and multitudes of followers. From their point of view, history is not silent about what they regarded as a great apostasy of the orthodox catholic Christian Church from the truth, and they were vocal about it in their public preaching and their writings. Likewise, orthodox catholic theologians were not silent about condemning them as heretical teachers of doctrines of devils. But without exception, all of those movements condemned as heretical by catholic orthodoxy within the first four centuries of Christian history have either withered or died out and become extinct. They each strongly contradicted one or more New Testament teachings, even rejecting some of the protocanonical books of the Bible accepted by all Christians from the beginning of the church. Taken together they do not even represent a coherently unified theology of Christianity that could be called the one original apostolic Christian Gospel that the catholic orthodox Christian Church had apostatized from. The various doctrines and groups rejected by catholic orthodoxy even disagree with each other. Their own writings which survive to this day and can easily be obtained also demonstrate that not one of them represents or even resembles Mormon or Fundamentalist teachings. Conversely, Mormon and Fundamentalist Christian doctrines are not represented by any extant writings dated to the first four centuries of Christianity. This historical silence is taken by them as proof that the Great Apostasy from the truth of Evangelical Reformation Christianity must have occurred. See Circular reasoning and Proof by assertion.
"The faith which was once for all delivered to the saints"
Orthodox and Catholic apologists assert that it is unreasonable to assume that the earliest Fathers – those who were taught personally by the apostles – would teach heresies and that the truly faithful followers of the apostles' doctrines, who had their writings, and who knew the older generation of people who had personally heard them teach and preach, would have remained silent about such a massive paradigm shift in fundamental Church teachings.
Not one of the Ante-Nicene Fathers is accused by their contemporaries of introducing false doctrine or of abandoning "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
This doctrinal evidence in support of the traditions handed down from the apostles of the Lord directly refutes the Mormon assertion that the Great Apostasy occurred shortly before A.D. 200. The writings immediately after A.D. 100, such as the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch and the others included in the Apostolic Fathers show a continuity with the New Testament writings before them and with the subsequent Ante-Nicene Fathers and Post-Nicene Fathers after them, which strongly dismisses the Mormon claim of a Total Apostasy.
The same kind of evidence also weighs heavily against the Fundamentalist position. Fundamentalists claim that the apostasy does not occur until roughly A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea when all of the 318 gathered bishops of Christianity in fear for their lives were completely intimidated and crushed into submission under the total domination of Emperor Constantine. To a large degree, Protestantism teaches that Constantine the Great merged paganism with Christianity, beginning with the Council of Nicaea, thereby seeking to bring unity and stability under his rule and to advance acceptance of and the power of his version of the Church as the official Imperial Roman State religion by all sectors of the empire. But even here there is a complete continuity of teaching between the Ante-Nicene Fathers and the post-Nicene Fathers. There is no historical evidence that the Emperor Constantine had any decisive influence on the discussions, debates and decrees of the Council, made any threats, or did anything other than preside over the proceedings. This strongly speaks against the Fundamentalist position. There is no evidence of a radically fundamental change in Church dogma. See Burden of proof and article on ''The Two Babylons''.
Proof from silence
Although the weight of historical silence about any great apostasy is not enough to prove that something did happen, based on the obvious differences between Catholic and Orthodox doctrine and Reformation principles of Christian belief, this silence is a very serious problem for those who wish to advance this notion, that a massively fundamental change in doctrine and practice was so universally pervasive and acceptable to the whole Church that there was no one around (or left alive) to protest such an apostasy. Martin Luther famously declared, "I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other." However, it is a matter of historical record that he has offered no evidence in support of this assertion in his writings and in his testimonies before Church and civil authorities, he cites no example of contradiction. There is absolutely no evidence for a mass apostasy in any historical records. See the following links (note which writings were condemned as heretical, and when they were condemned):
- Do the Councils of the Catholic Church Contradict Each Other? Kenneth Henderson (pintpipeandcross.wordpress.com)
- Popes (badnewsaboutchristianity.com)
—from the anti-Christian site What is so Bad about Christianity? (badnewsaboutchristianity.com)
This site is an outstanding representation of apostate reasoning.
The Protestant position is firmly based on the fundamental claim that the Reformers, guided by the Holy Spirit of God, rediscovered the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore every early Christian writing which supports Catholic doctrine is proof of the Great Apostasy because the doctrines represented in the early Christian writings conflict with Protestant doctrines: the fact that they contradict 16th century Protestant teaching and support ancient Catholic Orthodoxy is presented as demonstrable proof that the early Christian writings are certainly false. Critics dismiss this assertion as a blatant example of Circular reasoning. See Memory hole and Revisionism.
In contrast to a Great Apostasy in the past, some see the Great Apostasy as a future event to come, which will afflict the church prior to the Parousia. However, many hold that it will take place only after the Rapture of the true church. See End Times. Others maintain that the Great Apostasy has already occurred with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. However, this is not accurate.
Polemics: misuse and abuse of "apostasy"
The word "Apostasy" and "Apostate" does not properly apply to anyone or to any church that (still) claims the name of Christian, however false their claim to be Christian might be: they may be guilty of formal and material heresy, they may have rejected every traditional Christian doctrine, belief and practice in their teaching and preaching, they may be liars, they may be virtual atheists, but if they have been baptized and have not renounced the name of Christian they are not actually guilty of apostasy—even if some Christian commentators have ignorantly and improperly abused this word by falsely saying that such evident sinners are true "apostates". They are certainly guilty of hypocrisy, perhaps even sacrilege, blasphemy and heresy, "holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people." But they are not apostates.
Actual "apostasy" involves a baptized Christian who has afterward totally repudiated Christianity, renounced the Lord Jesus Christ, and has utterly rejected as evil the name and identity of "Christian" together with every possible involvement with anything that could be called Christian doctrine and practice. Apostates want nothing to do with Christianity.
The charge of apostasy
Historically, therefore, by the very definition of the word, what is called "the Great Apostasy" of the Catholic Church actually never happened. The Catholic Church still claims to be fully Christian: one, holy, catholic and apostolic; and professes to this day the ancient Christian creedal formulas proclaiming Jesus Christ as "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God". An apostate rejects this claim and renounces Christianity as a religion of lies, and denounces Jesus himself as a fraud.
Non-Catholic denominations, sects and groups who have cited what they consider as evidence against Catholicism would have been more accurate in charging the Catholic Church (wrongly or rightly) with adopting en masse "A Great Delusion" in the form of "the Great Hypocrisy" or "the Great Heresy", or with committing "the Great Blasphemy"—instead of "the Great Apostasy". Even with every historical charge of hypocrisy, abuse, immorality, false doctrine and practices of superstition levelled against her, and against her popes, bishops, priests, deacons, religious orders, and laity—whether such charges are true or not—the Catholic Church has never actually committed the Great Apostasy, and is not an apostate religion.
According to a sola scriptura reading of 1 John 4:2 and 15, the Catholic and Orthodox churches are "of God", for they dogmatically assert that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and they publicly confess that Jesus is the Son of God. "...and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already." On this doctrinal basis according to the Bible alone they cannot be antichrist and they cannot be apostate.
Apart from doctrinal considerations, Catholic apologists are able to cite the following undeniable historical facts:
- The catholic Church was not founded by men who disobeyed the authority of those who were over them in the Lord [that would be schism] (Hebrews 13:7 and 17; Titus 3:1-2; Romans 13:1-2; Matthew 18:17-18 and 16:19 and 23:1-4; 2 Peter 2:9-10; Jude 8)
- The catholic Church was not founded by men who claimed the Holy Spirit had not remained with it and had not continually led it into all truth [that would be heresy] (John 14:16-17 and 16:13; Ephesians 2:18-22; Matthew 28:20)
- The catholic Church was not founded by men who came out of one church to form another [that would be schism] (1 John 2:18-19; 2 Peter 2:1-3 and 3:16-17; Acts 20:29-30)
- The catholic Church was not founded by men who taught another "Jesus", another tradition and another gospel different from the church they departed from [that would be heresy and schism] (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:3-4; Titus 3:9-10; Hebrews 13:8-9)
- The catholic Church has never been led by men who deny that Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God [that would be heresy] (John 6:66-69; Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:29; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:21; John 2:22; 2 Peter 2:9; 2 John 7; Jude 4)
See Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed
- The catholic Church has never been led by men who renounce or denounce apostolic Christianity as a false religion [that would be apostasy] (John 17:9-21; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 and 12:4-11 and 28; Acts 20:28; 2 Timothy 1:14 and 2:2)
- The catholic Church has never been led by men who refuse to be called Christian or claim they are not Christian [that would be apostasy], even while they were scandalous sinners (1 Timothy 1:12-17 and 2:7; 1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Romans 12:4-5; Colossians 2:19)
- The catholic Church has been reviled as evil and hated for claiming to preach Christ and the truth of God (Luke 21:17 and 6:22-23; John 15:18-21 and 17:14; Acts 28:22; James 2:7)
- The catholic Church has grown until it is the largest religion on earth and the largest Christian denomination (Daniel 2:34-35 and 44-45; Matthew 13:31 and 16:18; John 15:1-6; Revelation 21:24-26)
- The catholic Church has an altar from which the Jews had no right to eat and from which Catholics claim to partake of the body and blood and divinity of the Lord (Hebrews 13:10; 1 Corinthians 10:16-18 and 11:23-30; 2 Peter 1:3-4; John 6:52-58)
- The catholic Church condemns apostasy. (John 15:6; Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:23-31; Jude 5-25)
Hebrews 6:4-6: the crucifying of Christ again
Hebrews 6:4-6 is a direct reference to apostasy, a "falling away" or abandoning of Christ. The word παραπεσόντας parapesontas in verse 6 is translated as both "fall away" and "apostatize". It derives from the basic Greek word παραπίπτω "parapiptõ" (KJV "fall" Strong's number 3895): "to fall aside, that is (figuratively) to apostatize."
|“||4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, 5 And have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. KJV (boldface emphasis added)||”|
|“||23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. KJV||”|
Hebrews 6:6 is in the middle of a passage bookmarked by Melchizedek in Hebrews 5:10 through Hebrews 7:1 with everything in between as one progressive thought. The author of Hebrews began to explain the individual priesthood to the Hebrew Christians represented by Melchizedek but realized in Hebrews 5:11 that they had regressed in their faith and pointed out that they were now studying how to become born again to the point that they were even attempting to become born again a second time. As individual priests before God, Christians are supposed to confess their sins to God and not to seek to become born again a second time as the Hebrew Christians were doing.
Hebrews 6:6 Fallen away: Greek word is parapipto which is a compound of para (near or immediately next to; where English word parallel comes from) and pipto (to stumble or fall down) which could be translated as fallen beside or we could say stumble beside the Christian path. Parapipto (a verb) is used once in the Bible but the noun paraptoma (3900) is used often. Some examples: Galatians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:7 & 2:1; Romans 11:11 (stumbled first then fell). In the NASB it is translated as trespass(es) and transgression(s)
John 13:9-11 Peter wanted a second bath. Since Peter is immature at this point, Jesus provides a gentle explanation that once you are bathed (believe in Jesus Christ) you only need your feet washed. Priests in old testament bathed at home and then washed their feet at the temple. Foot washing represents God cleansing us from our sins while we are in the world. 2 Peter 1:9 Tells us that you can forget that you've been purged from old sins or forget you've been born again.
When Moses was at the waste place of Horeb, God commanded Moses to strike the rock with his rod of judgment (Exodus 17:5-6). Later at the sacred place of Kadesh, Moses was commanded to speak to the rock with Aaron's rod which had budded but instead took Aaron's rod and struck the rock a second time (Numbers 20:9 & 17:10). In the former, striking the rock represented Jesus on the cross bearing our judgment to provide salvation. In the latter, speaking to the rock with Aaron's rod represents our priestly duties of confessing our sins post salvation (1 John 1:9). Striking the rock the second time caused God to not be hallowed (Numbers 20:12) and was sufficient to bar Moses from entering the promised land. To amplify, Hebrews 3:7-11, 15, 4:3 & 4:7 quote from Psalms 95:7-11 which speaks about the Meribah incident.
In John 11:21, 32 Martha and Mary said exactly the same things to Jesus but received entirely different responses. Martha was the busy body who did not want to study God's word and did not know much about God and even wanted to leave when Jesus was explaining things to her. Mary was the spiritually mature sister who used to sit at the feet of Jesus and therefore Jesus had higher expectations of her and therefore wept when Jesus saw the hopelessness of the people and the lack of spiritual witness by Mary.
The Corinthian church had always been immature and therefore had lower expectations so we do not see words such as this in the letters to the Corinthians. The Hebrews had higher expectations since they had been mature and are therefore rebuked sharply for their attempts to become born again a second time.
Hebrews 10:26 can be understood by the word "We" or we Hebrews who have been relying on the laws and sacrifices for generations. If we Hebrews continue to rely on the laws and sacrifices after we have heard of Jesus Christ, then there is no more sacrifice.
interlinear text of Hebrews 6:6
multiple translations of Hebrews 6:6
multiple commentaries on Hebrews 6:6
Strong's number 3895 παραπίπτω parapiptó: to fall in, into or away, to fail
the basic text analysis of Hebrews 6:6 —παραπεσόντας "having fallen away" (from God)
100 Bible verses about Apostasy
The entire Letter to the Hebrews constitutes a flawlessly-reasoned and impassioned argument against committing apostasy.
- Sources defining and discussing the standard meaning of apostasy:
Merriam-Webster - apostasy (merriam-webster.com)
Dictionary.com apostasy (dictionary.com)
TheFreeDictionary.com apostasy (thefreedictionary.com)
Merriam-Webster - apostate (merriam-webster.com)
Dictionary.com apostate (dictionary.com)
Your Dictionary: Apostasy (yourdictionary.com)
Wikipedia - apostasy (wikipedia.org)
Wikipedia - Apostasy in Judaism (Wikipedia.org)
Wikipedia - Apostasy in Islam (Wikipedia.org)
PewResearchCenter Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy? by Angelina E. Theodorou (pewreasearch.org)
Apologetics Index: Apostasy (apologeticsindex.org) includes apostasy from cults and cultic responses to those who have apostatized from their ranks
Mormon Think: apostasy (mormonthink.com) Article discussing phenomenon of apostasy from the ranks of the Latter-Day Saints, and how the LDS Church defines "apostasy".
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Apostasy. Mark W. Karlberg (biblestudytools.com)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Apostasy; Apostate. Dwight M. Pratt (biblestudytools.com)
Catholic Encyclopedia: Apostasy (newadvent.org) This article defines multiple meanings of apostasy.
(The meaning relevant to this Conservapedia article is Apostasy Fide or Perfidiae, complete departure from the Christian faith.)
- Catholic Essentials: Apostasy (catholicessentials.net)
- Galatians 5:4
- 1 Timothy 4:1-5
- Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10
- Acts 20:28-31; 1 John 2:18-19
- 1 John 2:19
- Matthew 16:18; 18:15-20; 28:20; John 14:16-17, 23, 26; 16:7, 12-14; 17:9-23
- 1 Timothy 3:15
- Hebrews 18:17 and 7; Romans 13:1-2
- 2 Thessalonians 2:15 reference to "oral tradition" and "scripture"
- Ephesians 3:10
- Hebrews 6:18
- See Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed
- Where and when did the Catholicism begin? by John Oakes (evidenceforchristianity.org)
- Compare Mark 3:28-30; John 10:37-38; see also Corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
- Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church (2014) International Theological Commission (vatican.va)
Vatican theologians: don't confuse sensus fidelium with majority opinion Catholic Herald (catholicherald.co.uk)
Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, Georges Florovsky, Emeritus Professor of Eastern Church History, Harvard University (Bulgarian-orthodox-church.org) pdf
- OrthodoxWiki: "Heresy" (orthodoxwiki.org) This site gives a list by name of the early individuals and movements condemned as heretical by the orthodox catholic Church.
- See Jesus' warning in John 15:4-6. Compare the "stone" of Daniel 2:34, 44-45 and the "stone" of Matthew 16:18-19.
A partial list of early heretical movements which have become extinct or remain "withered" and insignificant today includes the following:
- First Council of Nicaea - 325 A.D. The Canons of the Council are listed.
Compare the claim that false doctrine was introduced in them.
See the anti-Catholic Wikipedia article Great Apostasy
- See articles: Eusebius, who covers the events in his Life of Constantine. There were also other witnesses, from the following century, three important church histories which pick up from where Eusebius left off and which all, at or near the beginning, cover the events of Nicaea. These are by Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. From these records we find that whenever appeal was made to the emperor by some of the members of the Council for a decision, Constantine deferred to their knowledge of theology, and always referred their concerns to the representatives of the Council for their consensus and determination of the matter. His major concern was unity. Their major concern was a correct interpretation of the true meaning of the words of Scripture, according to the traditions of the apostles (Apostolic Tradition).
- See Logical fallacies: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and manufacturing facts from a theory.
- Statement to The Imperial Diet ('Assembly') of Worms (Germany), May 1521, presided over by Emperor Charles V. At the diet Luther was asked if he would retract his teachings condemned by the Pope (to include his 95 Theses). After a day's meditation he refused. He declared, "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."
- See Logical fallacy: Proof by assertion. Do an online search for "Martin Luther's evidence that popes and councils have contradicted each other".
- For example, those whom Paul called "false brethren, false apostles". Compare Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15.
- The word "apostasy" is often deliberately abused and misused as a blanket term for any or all perceived deviations from Christian truth, especially violations of particular denominational and sectarian principles and standards of conduct and belief, principles and standards which others call heretical and intolerant. Polemical attacks by any one fundamentalist Christian group against any or all other groups or denominations invariably include charges of apostasy. See examples of improper usage of "apostasy" and "apostate" in the following articles:
- Christian Crier: What Is Apostasy? A Biblical Definition. Article by Jack Wellman (patheos.com)
- CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: Apostasy in the Christian Church, by Matt Slick (carm.org)
- What is apostasy and how can I recognize it? (gotquestions.org)
Compare the standard definitions of apostasy in footnote .
See also Seven Deadly Sins and Excommunication.
- 2 Timothy 3:5 (see verses 1-9)
- Hebrews 6:4-8
- Compare KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 "Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion".
- "unholy thing", meaning "ordinary", nothing sacred, Strong's number 2839, "κοινός" kǒinǒs, "common, profane, defiled, unclean, unholy". Catholics interpret Hebrews 10:29 as referring to rejection of rhe real presence of Christ in the sacrifice of the Mass as blasphemy—see The Bible and Transubstantiation in Roman Catholic theology
Council of Jerusalem
Julian the Apostate
Council of Nicaea
St. Thomas Aquinas
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Shroud of Turin
Council of Trent
''The Two Babylons''
Essay:Reasons the Catholic Church is Unbiblical
Second Vatican Council
Society of St. Pius X
The Da Vinci Code
- Lists of former Christians (wikipedia.org)
- The Great Heresies a list of heresies committed by Catholics
- Church Councils. The Documents and Canons of the Councils of the Catholic Orthodox Church from Nicaea I to Vatican II
- Major Councils of the Church (dailycatholic.org)
- The Early Church Fathers and the Sabbath (ukapologetics.net)
- Early Church Fathers - Worship on Sabbath or Sunday (freerepublic.com)
- Could you tell me why the Sunday-law of Constantine is ignored as if Sunday is mentioned in the Greek Scriptures. Is this not a turning point of the history of the apostasy of the church as prophesied in 2nd Thessalonians 2? (churchhistory101.com)
- Orthodox Christian Information Center. The Great Schism: The Estrangement of Eastern and Western Christendom (orthodoxinfo.com)
- The Great and not-so-Great Apostasy (catholicbasictraining.com)
- Latter day Saints and the "Great Apostasy", by Tim Staples (catholic.com) Discusses the Mormon claim that Christianity did not exist on earth for 1800 years after the death of the apostles.
- The Great Apostasy: Did the Church Disappear? by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Institute for Religious Research (mit.irr.org)
- Apostasy (lds.org) The actual teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the meaning of the Great Apostasy.
- The Apostasy: An Era of Spiritual Darkness (thegreatapostasy.com).
- Grace to You: Explaining the Heresy of the Catholic Mass, Part 1. John MacArthur (gty.org) The author accurately quotes the early Church Fathers regarding the sacrifice of the Mass. He says, "It's really an amalgamation of pagan sacrifices which has found their way into Christianity very, very early."
- This sermon transcript is an outstandingly clear representation, based almost entirely on an anti-sacramental Evangelical Christian interpretation of Hebrews 8 and 10, of the claim that a Great Apostasy must have occurred in the first and second centuries of Christianity, first perpetrated by a unanimous doctrinal conspiracy among the earliest Church Fathers which was passively accepted by all the heads and leaders of the churches without comment, criticism or protest, in silence, and then perpetuated through the centuries by Church Councils and enforced by threats of damnation to hell.
- The Great Apostasy that Never Happened (friendshipgarden10538.yuku.com) Subtitle: "The So-called 'Great Apostasy' Has Already Come to Pass! But it did not happen when non-Catholics claim it happened."
- The Protestant Church of Christ: Proof of Apostasy #1. Patrick Vandapool (thechurchofchristiscatholic.com)
- Christian Research Institute. The Two Babylons, by Ralph Woodrow (equip.org) a critique and rebuttal of anti-Catholic arguments used by Alexander Hislop, the 19th century author of "The Two Babylons"
- Why Catholics Are Going To Hell, by David J. Stewart (jesus-is-savior.com)
- What "No Salvation Outside the Church" Means ("Extra ecclesiam nulla salus"), by Jim Blackburn (catholic.com)
- The Apostasy - When Did It Begin? Bethel Church of God (bethelcog.org) One of the dates proposed is when Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God died in 1986. Other dates are also explored as the possible beginning of the Apostasy.
- Worldwide Church of God. Christian or Cult? (rapidnet.com)
- Are We Living In The Days Of The Great Apostasy? (charismanews.com)
- The Great Apostasy (lightforthelastdays.co.uk) Discusses the Great Apostasy prophesied to come in the last days.
- Question: Will there be a great apostasy / falling away during the end times? (gotquestions.org)
- Marquette Warrior: Dan Maguire: Just a Short Step From Atheism? (From the New Oxford Review) (mu-warrior.blogspot.com) A relevant discussion of virtual atheism ("Christian" hypocrisy).