Ways of Christ

Logo: drawed Christian cross and earth symbol

Additions to part 2.

The "7 Churches" of the Revelation, and the Churches of today and questions of the oecumene -

with excerpts from the Revelation 1 - 3.

a.) The seven early churches in Asia.

1,1: This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon* take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2: who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3: Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near. (...) 7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be. Amen! (...) 9: I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10: I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11: saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches**, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea." 12: Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13: and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; 14: his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15: his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; 16: in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18: and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades***. 19: Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. 20: As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


Early church

Christ speaking as:



goal for those who overcome themselves

in Ephesus

He, "who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands"

hard work, perseverance, cannot tolerate evil men; "disgust Nicolaites as he disgusts****", and discerned false apostles; pacience and bearing up for his name's sake; and has not grown weary.

"...you abandoned the love you had at first." ..."repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent."

"To him who overcomes I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."

in Smyrna

"he who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life"

"I know your afflictions and your poverty - yet you are rich - and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. "

"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.'"

in Pergamum

he "who has the sharp two-edged sword".

"you remain true to my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was put to death among you, where Satan dwells."

Some who hold the teaching of Balaam: Balak- cult with eating food sacrificed to idols and practices of sexual immorality; some Nicolaitans. "Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth."

"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it."'

in Thyatira

"the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze"

"I know your deeds, your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your latter works exceed the first". 

They tolerate the false prophetess Jezebel practicing temple prostitution and eating food sacrificed to idols. Threat: to suffer intensely, unless they repent, and strike her children dead. "I will give to each of you as your works deserve". To the rest who do not hold her teaching: "I do not lay upon you any other burden; only hold fast what you have, until I come."

"To him who overcomes and does my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father; I will also give him the morning star."

in Sardis

He, "who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars"

"I know your works". "You have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy."

"you have the reputation of being alive, and you are dead. Awake, and strengthen what is about to die, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God." Remember what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief".

"He who overcomes, like them, shall be dressed in white, and I will not remove his name out of the book of life; I will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels."

in Philadelphia

"the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens"

"I know your works. I know that you have a little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Because you have kept my word of enduring patiently, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is going to come on the whole world, to try those who live on the earth."

"I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie - I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you." "Hold fast what you have, so that no one may take your crown.

Him who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he leave it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

in Laodicea

"the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation"

("I know your deeds"; but here is no clear positive acknowledgement.)

"because you are lukewarm****, neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth". "...You don't know, that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire...", "and white clothes...", "and salve to anoint your eyes...". "Those whom I love, I rebuke and chasten; so be zealous and repent."

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I myself overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."

* other translation: "in rapid succession"; ** other translation: "communities"; ** other translations: "and the kingdom of the death"/ "and the hell"; *** more usual translation: "hate" (Christ hates nobody!); see also Pauls's letter to the Ephesians; **** "lukewarm" does not mean a clear differentiated third position, but the absence of a position.
Already that Christ is speaking to every church with another quality of himself, shows that every church gets another "curriculum".


b.) The Churches of today.

The "seven early churches" really existed. In the main text of ways-of-christ.net the general significance of various cultural groups is also mentioned. It is also possible to explore the question of whether qualities similar to those of the "7 churches" are present within today’s churches or groups within churches and Christian movements. No schematic identification is intended and for this reason the results are not mentioned here, but in the following paragraphs the churches with their various sides are briefly outlined to allow each person to look for similarities themselves. No church is being judged here - as that might only be done by Christ himself. On the contrary, one may even get a feeling for the hidden significance of the ecumenical movement’s "unity in diversity", like the universal pattern of the "seven tones".


Churches of today/  movements.

strong points of them.

things which interested people in that churches must put up with them.

Greek, Russian, Serbian Orthodox Churches; Syrian- Orthodox Church, & some adherents of old celtic christianity; Armenian Church; Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian Church;

"Thomas' Church" in India; Nepalesian Church;...

Often deep faith, sometimes deep spiritual aspiration - e.g. monks etc. - , perseverance, consequence.
A touch of originality. Often a crypt below the church, a reminiscence of old christian - esoteric traditions. Teachings about the Wisdom (Mary / Sophia). 

In most cases a beautiful but strict traditional rite, for instance 3 hours standing. (except e.g. the unique Church of St.Thomas). Small adaptibility to the manifold search of modern and young people, especially in the former atheist surroundings - who so often are more or less on the edge of the church and think more secularly.
Communist pressure or nationalist preferences led some of this churches to limitations of the work, or to enmity with other churches or peoples. ...

Free Churches, Evangelical ones, also Pentecost Churches, Quakers;

Other organisations - sometimes seen as "sects"* with questionable arguments -: Adventists, New Apostolic Church, Mormons, and others.

Simplicity and uncompromisingness according to the own faith and morals. For persons suited for it, this uncomplicated relation to Jesus Christ gives also a more direkt entry to his power: strong experiences with faith, like getting answered a prayer extraordinarily and healing; sometimes with testimonies etc. in the divine services.
intensive Bible study without arguing difficult places away;
Good mutual support of the members of the living community - no bare "Sunday-" or "Christmas- Christianity".

Except the manifold encouragement in one's faith no direct methods for preparation for spiritual experiences. So in most cases also a lack of silence and of methods based on Christian meditation (as most other churches are lacking this).
The well-meant ethical rigorousness in human relations consists often of prohibitions, seldom accompanied with sufficient advices, how e.g. friendship can be mastered really.
Often limited willingness to understand the manifold christian experiences beyond those known in this part of the ecumene. Often the opinion, what was sufficient for oneself, should also be sufficient for missionizing all others. Sometimes a feeling, the own Church is especially elected.
Sometimes - in contrary to the image promoted of this movements - they one-sidedly backed political agendas. ...

The majority in the Protestant Churches

& progressive "open church" movement

E.g. Luther's direct resort to the Bible as the source of the belief.
Many social services. Often the openness, to take the belief seriously also in one's political decisions; to think  oneself, and to admonish people - also beyond the topics of morals.
Openness for the ecumenical relations between the churches. ...

Today the historiocritical study of theology often removes parts of the belief, - and in seminaries for ministers is taught how to preach it in spite of this.
Some are searching ways for spiritual deepening of belief, but this is seldom offered.
Widespread is superficiality and too much adaptation to the society - in gatherings too.  Sometimes churches were even concurring causes of problematic developments in the performance- oriented society (Calvinism). ...

Leftist catholicism, Feminist Theology, Theology of Liberation in the "Third World"

Old Catholic Church

Very near to the life of the people; - motivated by Christianity - strong efforts for social and human rights etc. With respect to this also watchfulness within the church.
Efforts to find an adequate spiritual and human role for women too.
Since some time also a minimum of openness for ways of mystical experiences. ...

The belief of some became shallow. Sometimes only viewpoints of deep psychology and social teachings (which would be valid for everyone, for pure humanists too).
Some in feminist theology are inspired by old cults, which are not always checked, to what extent they are compatible with christianity. ...

Roman Catholic Church

& more strict catholic movements f.e. around the Prophecy of Maria, and the charismatic movement, and mysticism.

Maintenance of the belief and rites given to this church. E.g. within the adoration of Mary and other traditions elements missing in some other churches.
Much charitable work; social watchfulness also in the world Church.
Partially a "brake" against the general ethical decay of the society.
At least some methods for the inner development (spiritual exercises, simple meditations) for a few members of the church.
In this Church appeared many mystics:  duplication of the secrets connected with the crucifixion of Jesus. (Also the wellknown theologian Rahner stated, that the church of the future should cultivate Christian myticism.) ...

This Church wagered much on doctrines/ dogmas and the power of the church office to assert itself - instead of teaching  with empathy and understanding for today's people, which are often self- reliant. Little endeavour towards "languages" necessary for imparting topics of faith for different people spiritedly. Morals consisting mainly of commandments and prohibitions. The ethical "brake" function does not go on to real transformation and renewal.
Working off the earlier inquisitorial and martial practices and the cooperation with special ruling powers has been started, but is difficult.
The imagination, that only the own church is the fully valid one.
Also the mystics were at best tolerated, instead of recognizing their pathbreaking function.  ...

'Christian Community' (Christen- gemeinschaft) and Christology of Rudolf Steiner; and christian Rosicrucians;

Special communities: New Revelation movements

Other schools, f.e. going on from teachings of Prof. J. Hurtak.

Congenial to the neglected approaches of a Christianity with recognition*** - not identical with "Gnosticism" -; based e.g. on John's Gospel; which were exterminated by persecution in most cases. (So this kind of Christianity was missing, and this led to many circumstances in today's churches, which are in need of improvement.)
Several paths of training for opening oneself on the way to God.
IHurtak e.g. works with the "Names of God" from the old language of the bible. ...

E.g. in the Anthroposophy often only "work according to Christ", instead also including him directly in prayer etc. (The "Christengemeinschaft" - a church including elements inspired by R.Steiner - is not looked at as a part of anthroposophy directly.)
(Not all modern groups of Rosicrucians and Alchemists show the same clear relation to Christianity.)
New Revelation Movements like those going on from the mystic Jakob Lorber are besides the bible including some kind of "prophecy". Viewpoints for discernment in that field are necessary, if one wants to evaluate such teachings

Some of the circles hardly tangible as organisations on the edge of Christianity, f.e. close to New Age Groups

Partially seeking a new time beyond the imperfectness of today's materialistic societies, so far related to the promise of the Revelation.
Looking at one's own qualities and experiences instead of condemning others.
Dialogues between many schools. ...

Not always clear distinction between Christ and alleged "Christs" or the "Christ consciousness" of some schools.
Because there is a comprehensive common ground between the religions only in ethics, but less in questions of faith, the differences are sometimes argued away -which does not help.
Because God is above all, sometimes it is not understood, how on earth ethical decisions between constructive and destructive powers are necessary. Therefore partially tolerating problematical things, and lacking that amount of ethical, patient bearing of difficulties among people, which formed the organized Christianity. As movements little engagement in problems of the society. ...

* Also it would be possible to compare churches with the original 12 Apostles. The different people have in different churches, what helps them on.
** If You are interested in a group, and: a.) they let you have your personal freedom, and your contacts to family and friends; b.) they don't support deeds which are not ethical; c.) they don't try to get your property (except your membership fee - or in some countries the tax - and voluntary donations); d.) they refer to the Bible or the New Testament, respectively to Jesus Christ with the same meaning; e.) they accept, that they are not the only true Christian group; - then at least the invalidating term "sect" is not correct. This is independent from the evaluation of their theological interpretations - which all churches have -, and from the evaluation of their additional traditions - which exist in almost all churches except some Protestant Free Churches.
*** E.g. John himself, Clemens of Alexandria, Origenes, the Paulikians, Joachim de Fiore, Master Eckehart, Tauler, Seuse, Nicolaus of Kues (Cusanus), Jakob Boehme, Angelus Silesius, Paracelsus, Novalis etc. Circles like this also may have had their limitations as all churches have theirs, but they are a part of the whole christianity too. The Bogumiles and the Catharians were partially similar, but were one-sidedly withdrawing from the world.
See the chapter "How to deal with prophecy" in the main text of ways-of-christ.net. Not all groups like this are working as some competitors of churches, and so they don't advise their people to leave their churches (E.g. Lorber). Other groups criticize the big churches, because they feel themselves persecuted by them.


c.) Approaches to solutions for conflicts between the churches in the (o)ecumenical movement.

The full scope of Christianity only starts to become visible by looking at the ecumenical diversity of the churches. Those who want to reduce Christian information to the lowest common denominator of the big churches withholds that very impulse from people and churches which they need to get ahead in the renewal of Christianity. Christianity has become superficial when compared with the early church. Christians need to learn from each other. But during this process everyone can keep their own identity. More consciousness about belonging together within the diversity of the churches does not mean attempting a fully unified Christianity now. Christ himself, in his letters to the 7 churches, did not mention this unity at all. He knew that people are different. He elsewhere predicts a time with one shepherd and one "herd", but does not mean that this herd is without any kind of inner diversity. The highest shepherd is Christ himself. He is also the only one, who would achieve the union of the churches in the right way. Who would listen to anyone else? But steps in this direction are possible. Here are some comments on the points the main Churches think are the main obstacles in this discussion (Most people in the churches are not interested in having obstacles):

0. An important basis is the mutual view of baptism as a sacrament.
During the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church in 1962 there was some opening for the ecumenical movement. It was accepted that elements like the Word of God, living mercy, hope, love and the gifts of the Holy Spirit - both invisible and visible elements - exist beyond the Catholic Church too and that sanctification and redemption are possible in other Churches too. But still the Catholic Church saw themselves as the only complete Church.

1. The Catholic Church says, the Protestant Churches don' t have the unbroken "apostolic Succession" by laying on of hands since the original Apostles, connected with the consecration of bishops and priests. That is why they are not accepted as full sister churches. However, some Protestant Churches partially came into being through conversions with the help of their state; so consecrated priests must have converted too. They then participated in the ordination of other pastors. Laying on hands for blessing and healing, etc. is indeed biblical. The bible does not say definitively that priests need an unbroken chain of laying on hands. But if one wants to interpret it this way, it is possible that the Protestant Churches again start laying on hands too, which would not do them any harm. For this purpose they could find someone within or outside of their church who is part of this unbroken chain. This would be a bigger challenge for the self-consciousness of the Protestant Churches.
There is also another possibility, one that all churches accept, that one can also directly pray for one's connection to the Holy Spirit, otherwise given by laying on hands. (Even every Believer could do this. There are people who are especially able to do Christian healing by laying on hands without any consecration - more able than most consecrated people.)  Then a pastor who received the Holy Spirit might be able to pass it on in the classical way by laying on hands. This version would probably be strange for the Catholic Church. (But the Protestant Church has not practised it either, so neither of them would have an unfair advantage.) To be exact, the Catholic Church can recognize this as a possibility - with the reservation, that by usual means it would not be possible to know whether the Holy Spirit was really there in the same valid way or not. However, there were always Catholics who would have been able to say whether it was effective or not. (E.g. people like Padre Pio, etc.)  Moreover, there is the question of what to do about a consecrated person in the Catholic Church who probably blocked the flow of the Holy Spirit through drastic misdeeds? Would he still be able to give the Holy Spirit? Without explorations and/or people like Padre Pio a trustworthy answer would not be possible.

2. The Catholic Church wants the question of the role of St. Peter's office, which means the Pope for the other churches, to be connected with its concept of a visible full unity of the churches headed by him. Jesus told St. Peter to take care of his "lambs" and "sheep".(John 21). However, Jesus did not assign the other Disciples and their circles to Peter, but the existing main stream of Christians. E.g. John had his own Churches in Asia (see above), Paul looked for many communities, etc. So the question iarises of what it might mean today that a successor of St. Peter "puts sheep out to pasture". Representatives of Orthodox Churches had signalled that they would accept some "honorary primacy" of the pope without direct power over other churches; similar to the role of the Roman bishop in the early church as the first one among equals. Even some Protestant theologians thought about that, but the Vatican did not react directly. Later the Pope wrote that the other churches should consider the role they think the Papacy should have. Considerations would not hurt anyone. If the Churches unite, they would surely choose a mutual leader.

3. Protestant Churches would like to see the ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church. But Orthodox Churches, parts of the Anglican Church and some Protestants also have difficulties with this question. On the other hand, within the Catholic Church there is also, e.g. in Germany, the group "Plebiscite We are the Church", who also demands it. No matter how important this question is, it is difficult to understand why it must be resolved through ecumenical discussions . This is a question which must be resolved by each of the churches, according to their consciousness. In any case, for the time being, the Vatican should not deny the Protestants' right to go on with their ordination of women, especially during the process of the increasing convergence of the Churches. The various practices can be a positive challenge to work on it in one's own church.
The Bible (Paul) states only a slightly different traditional role for men and women in the community. At that time, no one discussed, that women should have less rights in general. The circle of disciples still knew how important the role, e.g. of Mary or women in general was, even during the first Whitsun event (Pentecost)."The woman be silent in the community" certainly had another meaning than that which was later interpreted and does not have much to do with the named question of less rights. But there are doubts whether or not the churches can come to the same interpretation. Therefore, the only argument left is that this question must not be resolved in the context of the discussion about unity at the present time. Those who think they can solve this question by combining it with the unity discussion may be disappointed. It is probably easierto handle these two topics separately. When the time for unity approaches, we shall see which church is ready to do what.

4. The adoration of Mary as known in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is not practised in protestant Churches, but this is not looked upon as a main obstruction to more unity. The Second Vatican Council accepted that in liturgical questions there may be beneficial differences, according to the mentality of the believers. We know, e.g. of the endeavours of a pastor in the fifties and sixties who tried to re-establish some kind of Mary worship in a protestant Church.

5. On one hand one can understand that the church's law (CIC) is a delicate subject, because its earlier state had also led to misuse. But its role today should not be a question which obstructs the efforts of the churches for more unity. The Bible itself does not enforce the role of the traditional church's law in the Catholic Church. For the moment this concerns one single Church. Every church can have and even must have its own statute, and therefore its own "law" to a certain degree, as long as it exists as a single unit or even as a subordinate unit defined somehow or other. Changing such rules within the churches is up to the churches themselves - as long as nobody wants all the other churches to accept it without question. Even if someone wanted to discuss taking over the CIC, even the Catholic Church know that this project would require a new mutual council, creating or inspiring a new mutual statute. In 1983, the Catholic Church itself adapted its own law to the new "theology of God's People", agreed on at the Second Vatican Council in 1962. So this is not a topic which would hinder the way to unity.

6. Another point of controversy was the question of the justification of man before God, either by one's works or by the Redeemer. However, since there is a mutual paper of the Catholic and the Protestant Church concerning this question, it can be considered as sufficiently cleared up.

7. See also our page about the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion, Eucharist).

Indeed it would be possible for the churches to come closer to each other in a real ecumenical community, instead of tormenting* Christ with their delimitations. This should be done indeed "with sensitivity and consideration for each other, in patience and with courage, holding ther truth in reverence" (as John Paul II named it). Nevertheless, today one can already experience the "general" Church in the spirit of Jesus Christ, consisting of all those who follow Christ in their own way and endeavour "to do the will of the Father"; -no matter, what Churches they belong to, or whether or not they are members of any Church at all, or whether they necessarily use the term Christianity all the time. This is a basis for the "Ways of Christ" website. This kind of experience does not replace approaches to visible unity. However, this unity must be really attempted; a signature on paper would not be sufficient.

*) Churches like the Catholic one might get some inspiration from the related messages of Christ by the Orthodox Christian Vassula Ryden, "The true life in God", vol. 1. The Catholic Church looks at such writings as "private inspirations". However, the content is often more than just interesting for the person concerned. (This website only mentions literature as additional information and our insights are independent of it.)

"Jesus help us to reduce the prejudices between Christian communities, that the Holy Spirit can work better through them."


Used short quotes from the Bible and annotations - based on different translations - are additions to the corresponding chapters of the

Ways-of-christ.net™  main text (see the Homepage.)
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