We won’t dwell on the lineage forever, but before we go too much further, it must be debunked. Furthermore, we are making our way through John Holdeman’s book, and it concerns itself mostly with the lineage. He has written at great length on the lineage, so we in turn must debunk at great length. His bizarre claims must all be exposed and revealed for what they are, the ramblings of an incredibly grandiose and arrogant man. He tries to establish a line of unbroken succession from Christ and the apostles to the present day. In searching out the lineage, he looks for people with whom he can unite in practice. This establishes his rightness. If they practiced avoidance, if they refused to go to war, if they refused to practice infant baptism, etc. then he was comfortable incorporating them into his lineage and thereby adding to his validity. Stop and think about how foolish and deceptive this is. Instead of becoming converted and then letting God and the Holy Spirit be active in his life, he struggles mightily to establish connections with ancient sects that he believes practiced a form of religion that he, with his carnal mind can believe approximated what he also believes. This is what establishes his rightness. This is idolatry. He is worshiping the lineage, right practice and behavior, instead of the One who came to die for him. He would claim that he is following Christ, but only as he can see him being made visible in these medieval sects. According to the way he thinks, if he cannot find a link to the past through these people, then he cannot know God. He establishes this as a requirement for himself and his followers, and yet, he has to admit that if there are others who have never heard of him or connected with him, that they can be saved without it. We are not to worship the way, but rather the one who points the way, Christ.
Holdeman bases his claims of being the true church on this lineage that he claims goes back to the time of the apostles, but what if the early church itself had fallen into apostasy? Any church that makes a claim of being the true church of Jesus Christ, then it should at least resemble the church that Jesus built. The Roman Catholic Church is not the only sect that claims to be the true church, but it is the only one that bases this claim solely on historical continuity. There are Baptist groups and other (such as Mennonites, etc) that attempt to trace their origins back to the first century through the various heretical sects that existed in ancient and medieval times, such as the Cathars, the Albigenses and the Waldenses. It is true that the Baptists and the Waldenses rejected infant baptism and some of the other Roman Catholic practices. But similarities in a few points do not prove identification. For example, the Assemblies of God, Mormon, and Jehovah Witnesses all reject infant baptism, images, the pope and a multitude of other Roman Catholic practices and have many things in common with the Baptists and Anabaptist groups, but these sects would certainly not be accepted by the Baptists, or the Anabaptists, as being part of their organization. Thus we see that Menno and Holdeman went about searching for similarities and when they found them, declared themselves one with them. What if, in the future, a rogue preacher set about tracing a lineage, and because he saw some similarities between Mennonites and Assemblies of God, he placed them in the same category and made them part of his lineage. Do you see the difficulty in tracing a lineage from hundreds or even thousands of years down the road?
I will end this post here but I will come back with more about sectarianism and early apostasy….