The Church in 1492

by Kent Heaton

The world of 1492 was very small. Man knew very little about the earth as we know it today. Christopher Columbus sailed this important year with a crew of 87 to discover a new world. His adventure literally changed the face of the world and man came to realize the world was a much larger place. The world of 1492 was very different in regards to religion. We are familiar with the multitude of churches in our community. Today there are hundreds of different churches that fill the landscape. The Bible is interpreted responding to current thoughts and understanding of doctrine. But how does 1492 fit into this formula?

In almost every community, there are varied types of churches that bear different names with their own creed books and dogmas and beliefs. There are churches called Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ, Mormon, Nazarene, Jehovah Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, Episcopalian and a myriad of differing forms of faith systems. In 1492, Columbus would not find a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Mormon, Nazarene, Jehovah Witness, Seventh Day Adventist and Episcopalian church. At best, the Lutheran church was still 38 years away; the Presbyterian did not form until 1535; John Smyth established the Baptist church 115 years later and John Wesley organized the Methodist church 237 years after Columbus sailed to the new world.

The Roman Catholic Church had been in existence for centuries as the apostate church prophesied by the Holy Spirit in 1 Timothy 4. Other churches such as the Mormon, Jehovah Witness and Seventh Day Adventist were nearly 400 years away from beginning. When Columbus sailed in 1492, the modern day representation of “worship the church of your choice” was non-existent. Yet, there were in 1492 people of God devoted to Christ who worshiped in simple form of the New Testament pattern throughout the known world. How do we know this?

The church of the Lord began in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. It was called the “church” (Acts 2:47); “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16); “church of God” (I Corinthians 1:2); “churches in Judea which were in Christ” (Galatians 1:22); “the body” (Ephesians 1:22,23); “saints in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:1); “church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15); “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23); among other descriptive terms. The book of Acts is filled with the early work of the church and the epistles show the fulfillment of that early work. This pattern continues to this day by those who follow the New Testament pattern given by God concerning His church.

It is important to understand that man has created a varied form of doctrine that has suited his own needs and wisdom of interpretation creating a myriad of churches. Does it matter if a church is not found in the Bible yet found in history of man as beginning by man? If a man lived in 1246 could he worship in the same manner as people do today with the many churches? God has given a simple book to follow and understand for all men – those living in the year 1246, 1492 or 2006 – or those living in 3006 (if the Lord wills). The Hebrew writer said the kingdom of his day “cannot be moved” (Hebrews 12:28). This kingdom has remained for nearly 2,000 years. This kingdom is the church patterned after the New Testament alone.