16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pilgrim Church - review comments
This book is a classic and a MUST-READ for all students of church history. Deviating from the tradtional path of organised ecclesiastical denominationalism it reveals the thread of those who from the early New TEstament church have striven to maintain the church principals of the first century.
Not jsut an exposure of persecution from pagan, but also from Catholic and...
Published on 15 Jan 2004 by T J MITCHELL
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Are You A Gnostic?
Many who follow this idea of a Pilgrim Church use as their base text a book written by E.H. Broadbent. Broadbent was an Evangelical Christian of the Plymouth Brethren persuasion. Dave Hunt wrote the forward to the new edition of Broadbent's "classic", a man I once admired as a stern defender of the "faith once delivered" and who also has...
Published on 2 Aug 2011 by Dave Kinsella
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pilgrim Church - review comments,
This review is from: The Pilgrim Church (Paperback)This book is a classic and a MUST-READ for all students of church history. Deviating from the tradtional path of organised ecclesiastical denominationalism it reveals the thread of those who from the early New TEstament church have striven to maintain the church principals of the first century.
Not jsut an exposure of persecution from pagan, but also from Catholic and reformed Protestant corners against those you do not conform to the accepted norm.
Nicely divided into chronologiocal blocks and geographic areas enables the book to be used as a reference for dipping in and out of, as well as a gripping read from start to finish.
Writen over 70years ago, so some of the writing style not particularly contempory.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY,
This review is from: The Pilgrim Church (Paperback)E.H. Broadbent's book "The Pilgrim Church" was originally published in 1931 and is considered a modern classic, especially by those who are interested in the way God has worked in history to bring his church back to its apostolic roots. I have often referenced it in my own articles and books. There are several strengths to this work. First, it provides a sweeping review of church history from the times of the apostles to the twentieth century. Second, it tells the other side of the story, focusing often on many of the forgotten and alternative movements that sprung up at diverse times and in diverse places who challenged the biblical validity of the theology and practice of the established church of the day, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, or Protestant. Third, it provides helpful insights into the personalities and circumstances of many key figures who helped shape these grassroots movements. Fourth, there are some appendices like maps and timelines that help the reader better grasp the contexts discussed. Fifth, it is written by a man who himself has participated first hand in establishing and encouraging similar Christian movements in his own day. Finally, the last chapter deals with an analysis and assessment of the lessons his readers can learn from church history. My main criticism of this work is its lack of "symmetry." Some individuals and movements are described in too much detail, while others are given only passing reference, even though they may have contributed greatly to the cause of Christ in their day. It would have been a stronger work had equal attention and detail be given to each of these people and groups. My curiosity was triggered, but not satisfied, requiring me to do my own further research on some of these movements. Moreover, some of the sources Broadbent used to gather his history may not necessarily be the most reliable. Overall, however, I think anyone who reads this book will be challenged to look at church history from a different perspective and get back to more apostolic New Testament beliefs and practices in their own contexts, than is often practiced in many of the established churches today. A classic and important work!
RAD ZDERO, author of LETTERS TO THE HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT and THE GLOBAL HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Are You A Gnostic?,
This review is from: The Pilgrim Church (Paperback)Introduction:
Many who follow this idea of a Pilgrim Church use as their base text a book written by E.H. Broadbent. Broadbent was an Evangelical Christian of the Plymouth Brethren persuasion. Dave Hunt wrote the forward to the new edition of Broadbent's "classic", a man I once admired as a stern defender of the "faith once delivered" and who also has historical ties with this group. There are also other books such as The Trail of Blood written by J.M. Carroll, which purport to tell the tale of the baptists from the time of John the Baptist down to his own day (1930's). That book has sold over 2,000,000 copies so far and is still in print.The Trail of Blood. Another, less well known work is the 17th century Martyrs Mirror: The Story of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom From the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660. A huge tome which tries to present a case for Anabaptist (the Baptists only and real forebears) successionism. In reality this idea differs little from modern Baptist successionism, and may actually have inspired it. There have been a couple of books published which tackle Baptist Succesionism head on, and so in a very real way tackle the very thesis of this book also. Baptist Successionism Baptist successionism;: A critical view. The real difference between this book and the other two is perhaps this book does not try to present a purely Baptist model of Church history, where all the true Churches can be singled out by their rejection of infant baptism and their insistence on adult baptism, resulting in adult re-baptism. Funnily enough, this is where the Anabaptists get their name. The name Anabaptist is derived from the Latin term anabaptista, or "one who baptizes over again". The Anabaptists did not feel that they were re-baptizing as infant baptism was considered no baptism at all.
Some Positive Words First:
Before I begin the main body of the review, I would like to suggest that the book is, though I disagree with the thesis, still fairly good for historical reference, even though you will have to be careful to separate his opinion from the facts. This man did spend many years travelling the world collecting this information, and for that alone he must be commended. Therefore I have given it one extra star for its wealth of information, and for the many years of hard work put into producing the work. It is still of benefit to all who read it, if it is read with a discerning mind. I am sure Broadbent believed what he was writing (as does almost everyone who does this sort of thing).
The Pilgrim Church idea is an attempt to piece together the puzzle of where the real (spiritual) Church of Jesus Christ has been for the last 2000 years. The man who gave some real meat to this was E.H. Broadbent in his book the Pilgrim Church. Though there have been other books since the Reformation which have tried to write similar works, such as J. M. Carroll's "Trail of Blood" which was published right around the same time as this book, Carroll having died just before his book was published. In it Broadbent explores various sects of Christianity. He starts with the Church that Jesus and His Apostles established and later moves onto the various schisms that were at variance with the Church. These schisms were related to various issues within the Church. Some had nothing to do with doctrine but more to do Christian practice and others to do with politics.
Another View of History:
The Pilgrim Church doctrine or philosophy is the idea that the real (spiritual) Church has existed outside of the established Church for most, if not all, of the last 2000 years. It is the understanding the the faithful Church of Christ never held to a magisterial form of Church government even while this form of Church government was developing slowly within the visible body of believers. Most Protestant scholars date the time of the final divergence between the two at the time Constantine converted to the faith. It is commonly held that Constantine converted for reasons of political expediency, to help consolidate his power and strengthen his faltering empire. It is also commonly taught that the Christians of that time, tired and ready to submit to any proposal of peace, submitted to Constantine, and were deluded by his sweet words peace and prosperity. Having been worn down by centuries of persecution, Satan finally achieved with flattery and promises of peace what he couldn't do with threats and promises of torture and death. Some call this marriage between the Church and State the "Constantinian Hybrid". There is also the idea then that most, if not all, within the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are lost in sin and idolatry, and that this Church has been nothing but a cause for evil ever since. Protestant and secular authorities have been on a crusade of their own, for the last 500 years, of misinformation with regard to the Roman Catholic Church; ignoring or explaining away the good it has done, and concentrating only on the evil and the mistakes that it has committed. Of course, it cannot be denied that the Roman Catholic Church has been the cause of much evil and suffering, but neither can it be denied the great good it has caused. Like a dysfunctional parent, we still have much to be grateful for. But, the issue under discussion is which Church model is the historic one, and this issue so often gets tied up in other questions and objections that something has to be said about them. And much has. There are many books available that deal with these issues by Catholics and Protestants and Secularists which give another side to the story. Of course come will sugar coat everything (especially Catholics), but there are many who deal honestly with the facts and the failing of the Catholic and Orthodox Church history and it is in our best interest that we consider them seriously.
The Conversion of Constantine:
Not everyone agrees with the modern, Protestant/liberal interpretations of Catholic/Orthodox history, especially the conversion of Constantine, even among scholars. It is hard to sort through the evidence, especially when it is scant or it has been covered over by the prejudices of men. An example of one such scholar is Robert Browning. In "Fires of Faith" he wrote: "Today we know ore about the fourth century than scholars did a generation or so ago. And it may be that we have a deeper understanding of psychology in general and religious psychology in particular than they had. One long held view can be rejected out of hand. According to this theory, Constantine's conversion was entirely a matter of policy, carefully and cynically calculated, and designed to win for him the support of a numerous and important group in the society of the time. But the Christians were neither numerous nor important, and this was especially true in the western half of the Empire. It is true that Christians were more numerous in some of the eastern provinces. But in 312 the eastern provinces were not Constantine's problem [they were Galerius'], and even there Christians were far from forming a majority. It is unlikely that Christians -however we define them- formed ten percent of the population of the Empire. As for their importance, there were upper class Christians of course; but the bulk of the Christian community seems to have belonged to the lower middle class of the cities and towns -traders, artizans, small land owners and petty "rentiers," whose influence on the course of affairs was negligible. Nowhere were the country people Christians. And the army, whose support was crucial for Constantine until the last of his rivals had been eliminated, was and long remained solidly pagan. If Constantine's conversion was a matter of calculation it was an ill-considered one, and with no real bearing on his success."
The Pure Church:
This Pilgrim Church idea is also known sometimes as the "Pure Church". This idea is based primarily on two Scriptures: Mat 16:18 "...and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." & Mat 13:31-32 "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." These two Scriptures are given as support that Christ requires a Pure Church free from all pollutants. This is contrast to the ecclesiology of Rome, Orthodoxy, Lutherans and others, which state that in the Church will reside wheat and tares until the coming of the Lord who will at that time separate the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-29). Of course the those who hold to the Pure Church model interpret this differently
Our Gnostic Forebears?:
The most worrying thing I find with this idea of the Pilgrim Church, especially in Broadbent's book, is his inclusion of heretical cults such as the Paulicians, Bogomils and Cathars. All these groups had there foundation in Gnosticism (Neo-Gnostic), and are a far cry from Evangelical Protestantism, or any other modern Protestant sect who tries to use them. I have pointed this out to certain "fundamentalist" Christians only to be accused of being judgemental. Yet these same people would have no qualms about condemning other Christian groups such as Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons, whom they perceive as heretical, to be going to hell. This is patently illogical and inconsistent. A book I recommend on the subject Gnosticism, which deals with these groups also is The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiqutiy to the Cathar Heresy (Yale Nota Bene). Quite a lengthy and scholarly work, but well worth the effort if it's something that interests you.
Broadbent uses the Albigenses as an example of Bible believing Christians. He calls the Albigenses "brethren". He says of Pierre de Brueys, one of their preachers, that he drew "multitudes from the superstitions in which they had been brought up, back to the teachings of Scripture." He then goes on to give a summary of what he preached, yet he gives no references. I cannot seem to find any references, but I may not be looking properly and am open to being corrected on that. (p.107 onwards). Did you know that the Albigenses believed in 2 gods? A good god and a bad god? This is gnosticism. They also required vegetarianism among their members and made their cathecumens swear never to eat meat again. Paul warned that wolves would teach such a doctrine. These facts regarding the Albigenses are easily found on the internet from primary sources of their own extant writings. What many Protestants bring up in the defense of the Albigenses is the terrible crusade against them by the Catholic Church. These sad facts are true, and they were obliterated by the Pope's army, but we shouldn't let this fact, cloud our judgement as to what they actually believed. Many will say that the Catholic Church burned all their writings and we only have some fragments. That is true, and what we have is not very compelling for the case of Protestantism. At best we can say we have no evidence, other than biased Catholic sources, as to what they really believed. But that leaves the Protestant back at square one.
Do you seriously want to claim these people as your spiritual forbears? The J.W.'s don't have such bad theology as these wolves. But who knows maybe in a thousand years from now Evangelicals (or some other comparable "reform group") will use them too as part of their "Pilgrim Church". I mean they use the 66 books of the Protestant Bible as their sole authority, they evangelize a lot, they are a holiness separatist group. They are non-violent and have been persecuted in many countries, willing to die rather than renounce their faith. So yeah, I can definitely see something like that happening. If you want to claim the Albigenses as Bible believing Christians that's fine. They fit in nicely among the other 38000 other interpretations of the Bible.
Again, this book uses the Paulicians and the Bogomils (both Gnostic cults) as evidence of the True Church! If this doesn't infuriate you as a truth seeking Christian I don't know what will. As sincere believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be willing to go where the evidence leads, even if that means rejecting stances we once vehemently stood by, or embracing doctrines we once thought abhorrent. If it is true then we have nothing to fear. If it is false then we have everything to fear. We must be bold in our search for truth. In one sense we can see why so many cults and sects, that fall outside of Protestantism say that the Church simply fell away for 1500 hundred years (or whatever amount of time they determine elapsed between the moment when Apostolic Christianity fell, and when their group began). It is much easier to explain!
The Ante Nicene View of Ecclesiology:
The Church from the very beginning believed in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This can be seen as early as c.250 AD when a bishop of the Church of Rome named Novatian broke away from the Catholic Church. His reason for breaking away was that the Church had grown lax. The Church said that the reason was he was full of self-pride. We may never know the true reasons. But what we do know is that this man was in all points as orthodox as the Church. His contention was that the Church should not offer ecclesiastical forgiveness to those who had denied Jesus under torture. He said that if God wanted to forgive them that was His prerogative, but that the Church had no authority to do so. The Church thought otherwise and said that a person, could be offered forgiveness, who had committed such a sin should but should be barred from the Eucharist for 10 years. For this reason Novatian split from the Church and began the first "Pilgrim Church" (or Kingdom Movement). This episode of Church history is pre-Constantinian and the Novatian schismatic church cannot be shown to be in heresy on any points with the Church that preceded it. It's only difference was that it had a harsher discipline. It is possible to see it even as early as c.240 AD in "The Instruction of Commodianus" Ch.54 in The Ante Nicene Fathers V.4 P.213. His interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares is exactly the same as Cyprian's.
The Bible is a reliable source, but the problem is someone still has to interpret it, and 38000 denominations should prove that has not been easy. The Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura is inseparably linked to the ecclesiological doctrine of the Pilgrim Church. A Pilgrim Church answers to no higher authority, ultimately, than the Bible, since it rejects out of hand any idea of a continuation of Apostolic Tradition. If the idea of Sola Scriptura crumbles, then so does the Pilgrim Church model of ecclesiology. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura can be shown to be foundationally flawed at three points:
1. The Bible teaches no where the doctrine. In spite of many verses of Scripture quoted in its support, a clear look at those passages will show otherwise.
2. Building on that then is the united testimony of the early Church Fathers. Not one them held to the doctrine. David Bercot's Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs and J.B. Lightfoot's The Apostolic Fathers .. will show this to be the case. The first is an easy reference book of quotes, the second is most of the very earliest post-New Testament writings we have. This will take time, but will be extremely rewarding.
3. And finally, the doctrine has led to at least 38,000 different interpretations. This is not the testimony of the early Church, but of the Gnostics who were daily forming new sects as Irenaeus says in c.180 AD. Does anyone have the audacity to say that they have the Bible figured out over and against others who also assert this claim? Why, that would sound almost papal in its authority...
Modern Ante Nicene Church Movements:
Also, there is a small group of Christians who, having read the Ante Nicene writings and having then rejected many of the Protestant doctrines, inevitably find themselves rejecting the ecclesiology of those same early Christians. The problem they find is that when tracing the Church of the Ante Nicene period and her practices of non-resistence and separation from the world etc, they get to the time of Constantine and an almost insurmountable wall hits them. Everything looks like it has changed. So instead of claiming some Pilgrim Church, they either decide that the Church was buried for 2000 years, or they almost exclude the importance of doctrinal purity altogether, and elevate moral purity to an almost lone place of importance. Thus the former are forced to reject the Ante Nicene ecclesiology, while holding tenaciously to everything else they believed (that is everything they wrote down, since no doubt much of what they thought and practiced is lost to history unless you hold to an Orthodox view of ecclesiology). And the former are forced to a place where it is suggested that it would be better to return to the dawn of pristine Christianity, but not essential. This, of course, they must do while rejecting the clear teaching in the Bible that people will damned no only for moral sins, but for schism and heresy.
An example is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 which says "9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."
Like it or not Protestants do hold to tradition, their own tradition. It is a tradition called the Pilgrim Church. You can't find it in the Bible. But it basically says that down through history you can find little groups of Christians dotted around the world who held tenaciously onto the Bible as their only rule of faith. These simple believers basically all believed the same thing, and took the Bible literally. This is a tradition which has no basis on history, but is simply fanciful and wishful thinking. There are a small handful of groups that could perhaps be used in this sense, but this hardly proves anything.
Only Two Real Options:
There really are only two Church models on the market at the moment:
1. Historic Church with links to the Apostles through Apostolic Succession. This would include the RCC and the Orthodox Churches among some others perhaps. This group of Churches is far from perfect, and in fact suffers much from coldness and corruption. It has had a checkered past, and been the cause of thousands of deaths of those who disagree with their theology. Many, if not most within its folds are not spiritually regenerated (something the Catholic Church will at least admit these days.) Though many older Protestant groups suffer from the same spiritual deadness.
2. Pilgrim Church that has broken away from the historic Churches for one reason or another and claims to be the pure Church of the NT. (That is of course until someone disagrees and breaks away again claiming to be the REAL Pure Church of the NT). These groups can vary from extremely similar to the historic Churches in doctrine of practice or very dissimilar. They go from groups like Calvinists to Pentecostals to Anabaptists to Jehovah's Witnesses to Mormons and the list goes on. However you find among them a zeal and spiritual vitality not often encountered among Catholics and Orthodox.
A few books I would recommend on the subject are Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom and The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science). The second book especially will help eliminate some of the stuff we often hear that the RCC plunged Europe into the Dark Ages, and it was only Luther who got us out. The history of Medieval Europe is far more complex and interesting than that! There are others, but these are two I have on my own shelves. I also have Seven Lies about Catholic History, but this is strongly polemical, and so is only of limited value in this regard, in the sense that it would anger many non Catholics and so hamper them from actually getting anything out of the text and also, it may be more biased than usual than a more moderate book on the same subject.
Ultimately I don't claim to have all the answers. I know there is a God and that Jesus Christ is His Son and my Saviour. I know this experientially through my changed life, and it I also know it rationally through Creation, fulfilled prophecy, and the circumstantial evidence for the Resurrection. It seems to me that no matter what side you land on you must deal with paradox in your theology. The West thought they could sort it all out through reason and logic, but that only gets us so far. The possibility of spiritual delusion is a reality, and so the two must work hand in hand. Letting our spirits cry out to God in prayer, while not going against what we know to be true. At the same time, being open to truth, while being watchful against deception and lies. It is a tightrope we must walk, and I am finding more and more that it is not an easy one, but full of dangers on every side.
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The Pilgrim Church by Edmund H. Broadbent (Paperback - 1 Jan 2002)
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