After Jesus ascended back into Heaven, and the apostles had all passed on into glory, mankind was left with their writings as well as their living disciples. The living disciples fought heresies that came up from time to time by disciplining those that taught lies.
During the subsequent centuries, the church grew and prospered. The church itself became wealthy. Jobs in it became more lucrative. The clergy now had a second draw for members other than its mission – money.
Imagine a youth growing up, his dad is a pastor, but the kid is not a Christian. The kid sees a cushy job taking over his father’s congregation with its large following, nice pastorate, tidy sum of tithes, perhaps some assistance from the government, yet he does not believe that Jesus died for his sins, or that Jesus rose from the dead.
If the boy was honest he would denounce Christianity, declare his atheism, renounce all claims he had on the church, and move on in the world to make his way as best he can. Perhaps some did. But others did not. They toiled away at their lives writing sermons they did not believe, hiding their true feelings in order to keep their positions. As they grew older, some moved on to distinguished careers in teaching seminaries. Here they helped shape young minds.
Over time, a critical mass in the establishment church was reached in which such pastors became emboldened and tentatively, hesitatingly, began bringing their unbelief to the laymen. They were not removed from their positions, even though central tenants of the faith, such as Jesus’ death for sins and His miraculous resurrection, were being denied. Shame on the elders; who was left to defend the flock?
As this was happening, certain scientists were theorizing that the earth was much older than previously thought, that one kind of animal can change into another kind of animal, and that life can arise spontaneously from non-life. This gave non-believers a great excuse. The word of the scientist was taken at its face value.
Who was there to refute these two powerful groups? The evil pastors loved what the ignorant scientists were saying. (Perhaps none were as destructive as the racist Rev. Charles Kingsley, who smoothed the way for Darwin in undermining the faith of multitudes.) These pastors de-emphasized certain parts of the Bible and emphasized others (i.e., keep quiet about creation and instead talk about helping the poor). Conveniently, the money to the poor would first pass through the pastors’ hands.
Today, the church’s holy call to help the poor has been handed off to the government welfare system. The liberal church is taking on a new role, that of social justice crusader, and even for causes that are forbidden in the Bible. Jesus warned us about tares among the wheat, and Paul warned us about ravenous wolves. This should not therefore surprise anyone.
The visible church rolled over and played dead. But God has not left us destitute of teachers. If you are willing to study hard and put in the work, you can find the truth. A good place to start is by reading the Bible.