By the middle of the second century A.D., heresies based on pagan religious
practices, as Paul had warned would happen in his letter to the Galations,
began to overtake the true Gospel.
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; which is not another; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ."
Throughout each region where new churches were flourishing, local spiritual
leaders yielded to public pressure or their own power hungry egos, and
began to incorporate popular customs and festivals based on these ancient
practices into church doctrine, creating many perversely syncretized religious
sects which borrowed the name of "Christ", even declaring that He was "Christ",
but were not at all, or only loosely based on Christ's
"For many shall
come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
But nowhere was this more prevalent or detrimental to the True Church than
at Rome, which was at that time the seat of power, wealth, and influence
over most of the world. It was at this point in Church history that
the same Polycarp who had been a disciple of John (the Apostle of Jesus),
now in his eighties and Bishop of Smyrna, journeyed to Rome. There
he met with Anicetus, Bishop of Rome, to discuss what came to be known
as the "Quartodecimen Controversy".
In talks that were said to be amicable but unyielding, Polycarp tried to
dissuade Anicetus from substituting what is celebrated today as Easter
Sunday (the first Sunday following the vernal equinox), for the Passover
(the 14th day of the sacred year), as prevailing traditions of old had
them so doing.
He was not successful in this attempt and returned with the disappointing
news to Smyrna and Ephesus where "The True Church" continued to worship
in accordance with the teachings of John the apostle of Jesus.