Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?

By COGwriter

Nearly everyone in the West feels that they know about the Roman Catholic Church, but few understand what many of its original beliefs were. Additionally, most realize that they know very little about the doctrines of the Continuing Church of God (CCOG). Since many equate size to God's favor, they may improperly understand which of these churches is the true and faithful one.

While both groups publicly provide doctrinal and historical materials, relatively few (if any) have attempted to do a detailed comparison of the two groups, especially in the 21st century.

What do Roman Catholics believe? What did they believe? What does the Continuing Church of God believe? Which group best holds to the original teachings of the Christian faith?

This fairly long article will attempt to highlight some of the major similarities and dissimilarities between the Roman Catholic Church and the genuine Church of God --with a focus on the early beliefs of those who professed Christianity. Some of these differences should help demonstrate which one is the the true and faithful church.

Even though Eastern Orthodox and others consider themselves Catholics, for this article, Roman Catholics are defined as those supporting the Roman Catholic Church (which is why the term "Roman" is used). Historical writings that the Roman Catholic Church accepts (such as those from Irenaeus of Lyon, c. 180), items with an imprimatur, and other Catholic sources will be used. The terms Catholic, Holy See, and Roman Catholic may be used interchangeably here to refer to the church whose headquarters occupies Vatican City. The term Catholic is not intended to convey the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or other non-Roman Catholic churches, though in some early writings cited (prior to 200 A.D.) that term is not necessarily referring what is now considered to be the Roman Catholic Church (and in one or more early instances is apparently referring to those in the actual Church of God).

For purposes of this article, the Churches of God (COGs) are defined as groups holding to the basic teachings of the pre-1986 Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Historical writings from those considered to be true Christians by the real COG and Roman Catholic Church, such as Polycarp of Smyrna (d. c. 156), will also be used. The term Church of God is not intended to convey Sunday-observing or "Pentecostal" groups that sometimes have also used that term. The most faithful of all of them appears to be the Continuing Church of God.

The Apostle Paul taught:

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV).

A stigmatic Roman Catholic nun taught,

"If the Church is true all in her is true" (Cited in Schmoger Carl E. The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, Volume 2. Approbation: Bishop of Limbourgh Peter Joseph. TAN Books, reprint 1976, p.30).

Pope Benedict XVI taught:

"The Church considers that her most important mission in today's culture is to keep alive the search for truth..." (Church's Mission Is to Seek Truth, Says Pope. Zenit. May 12, 2010. http://www.zenit.org/article-29232?l=english).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

2104 "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it." (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 566)

The Eastern Orthodox correctly teach:

"Christianity, if true, has nothing to fear from honest inquiry" (Ware, T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, p.201).

And since both the Roman Catholic Church and COG consider that there is true Christianity, documenting the beliefs of both groups should assist any pursing honest inquiry.

The Original and True Church

Both the Roman Catholic Church and COG teach that they are the original and true Church, but because of their many differences, only one still could be.

Roman Catholic Church:

It has been seen that Christ not only established the episcopate in the persons of the Twelve but, further, created in St. Peter the office of supreme pastor of the Church. Early Christian history tells us that before his death, he fixed his residence at Rome, and ruled the Church there as its bishop. It is from Rome that he dates his first Epistle, speaking of the city under the name of Babylon, a designation which St. John also gives it in the Apocalypse (c. xviii). At Rome, too, he suffered martyrdom in company with St. Paul, A.D. 67. The list of his successors in the see is known, from Linus, Anacletus, and Clement, who were the first to follow him, down to the reigning pontiff. The Church has ever seen in the occupant of the See of Rome the successor of Peter in the supreme pastorate (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

According to Catholic teaching any Christians who, banded together refuse to accept the entire doctrine or to acknowledge the supreme authority of the Catholic Church, constitute merely a religious party under human unauthorized leadership. The Catholic Church alone is that universal society instituted by Jesus Christ which has a rightful claim to the allegiance of all men, although in fact, this allegiance is withheld by many because of ignorance and the abuse of free-will. She is the sole custodian of the complete teaching of Jesus Christ which must be accepted in its entirety by all mankind. Her members do not constitute a sect nor will they consent to be known as such, because they do not belong to a party called into existence by a human leader, or to a school of thought sworn to the dictates of a mortal master. They form part of a Church which embraces all space and in a certain sense both time and eternity, since it is militant, suffering, and triumphant. This claim that the Catholic religion is the only genuine form of Christianity may startle some by its exclusiveness. But the truth is necessarily exclusive (Weber, N.A. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Sect and Sects. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

As the Divinely appointed teacher of revealed truth, the Church is infallible...

The Vatican Council declares: "The Holy Ghost was not promised to the successors of Peter, in order that through His revelation they might manifest new doctrine: but that through His assistance they might religiously guard, and faithfully expound the revelation handed down by the Apostles, or the deposit of the faith" (Conc. Vat., Sess. IV, cap. liv). The obligation of the natural moral law constitutes part of this revelation. The authority of that law is again and again insisted on by Christ and His Apostles. The Church therefore is infallible in matters both of faith and morals...(Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

Revelation 2 and 3 shows the history of the church...We are...the one true Church...The true church is mentioned in Revelation 12...it was a persecuted church...it was always small...We are that church...The true Church has always had its biblical name...The Church of God and sometimes with a location or another word associated with it (Armstrong HW. Approximate Quotes from: A History of the Church of God--The Transition from Sardis to the Philadelphia Era. Behind the Work Video Sermon, Feast of Tabernacles 1983).

Polycarp (ca. 69–155AD) had been a personal disciple of the Apostle John and was one of the few church leaders of his day to hold fast to the Truth...The Apostle John died in Ephesus at the end of the first century. The next faithful leader in Asia Minor...was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. As a young man, Polycarp had been a personal disciple of John and had observed the Passover with him on several occasions. Polycarp became prominent during the first couple of decades of the second century. (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

God’s Church has endured through the ages. It is a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), but God has always remained true to His promise that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)...the true Church of God... The true Church, symbolized by a woman in Revelation 12, was forced to flee into the wilderness...the true Church’s history is not about one continuous human organization. The preserved history of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God has been almost entirely written by its enemies who viewed it as heretical (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

The predominant biblical name of the true Church in the New Testament is “Church of God.” Variants of this expression are clearly stated singular and plural forms in twelve different places in the New Testament (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:16,22; ;15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:5,15).  Throughout Christian history, the true church has normally used a version of the expression “Church of God” (or Church of Christ, cf. Romans 16:16) though often with another term, like a geographic region (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2) or another word, with it (1 Timothy 3:15). Jesus said that Christians would be kept in His Father’s name (John 17:12), which most often is simply “God” in the New Testament, hence “Church of God.” The most faithful Church of God in the end times in the Book of Revelation is the Philadelphian one, but since only a remnant of that is left, the term Philadelphia remnant Church of God is an appropriate description of the portion of the Church of God that holds fast to Philadelphia era teachings. Since the true Church of God has continued from the time of the original apostles, the name Continuing Church of God helps convey that. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

The Continuing Church of God also specifically traces its history from the original apostles like Peter, Paul, and John through through their faithful descendants like Polycarp, Polycrates, and certain other known early leaders/bishops in Asia Minor until the early third century, certain known leaders/bishops until around 135 A.D. in Jerusalem, and until around 211 A.D. leaders/bishops in Antioch like Serapion.  While Peter played a predominant role among the apostles, after his death, that leadership role would have passed to another apostle (John) and not to an elder who may have lived in Rome. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/07/13)

The Roman Catholic Church teaches the same visible organization (though its other literature suggests it somewhat includes autonomous groups, like the Eastern Orthodox) is the true Church. The COG teaches that the Bible shows that the Church, while always existing, will be in the wilderness for a time (Revelation 12:6) and does not have a continuing city (Hebrews 13:14), hence although the true Church itself would continue, it would not always clearly visible, nor could it be in one city for multiple centuries.

An interesting fact is that many prominent Roman Catholic Church scholars contend that statements implying that there were actual bishops of Rome who succeeded Peter are inaccurate as there were no leaders who held the title "Bishop of Rome" until about 80-90 years after Peter died (an article of related interest may be What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History?.

It should be noted that neither the Roman Catholic Church or COG believe that their respective members are the only ones part of the Christian Church. However, the Roman Catholic Church believes there are thousands of times more actual Christians alive today than those in the genuine COG believe that there are (though COG believes that more will ultimately be saved than the Roman Catholics normally do).

Being Faithful to the Original Faith that Was Delivered

Both groups recognize that the true church would place the highest priority on being faithful to the original faith.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Rheims New Testament of 1582 (the English translation from the Latin Vulgate that Roman Catholics generally prefer) states:

...contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

Apostolicity of doctrine and mission is necessary. Apostolicity of doctrine requires that the deposit of faith committed to the Apostles shall remain unchanged. Since the Church is infallible in its teaching, it follows that if the Church of Christ still exists it must be teaching His doctrine (O'Reilly TC. Transcribed by Jim Holden. Apostolicity. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In more recent times, Pope John-Paul II wrote:

GUARDING THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH IS THE MISSION WHICH THE LORD ENTRUSTED TO HIS CHURCH, and which she fulfills in every age. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 1).

Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI publicly stated:

Truth, and not what is "merely fashionable," must guide Christians as they enter into dialogue with those who hold different philosophies or religious beliefs, Pope Benedict XVI said..."People were created by God, who is truth, in order to find truth and not to settle for "the myths of custom, cultural habits or the fashion of the moment," he said. (Pope: Truth, not trend, must guide Christians in dialogue with others. Catholic News Service. March 21, 2007).

Church of God:

Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, NKJV),  Let brotherly love (Philadelphia) continue (Hebrews 13:1)…continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42 YLT)...

Tracing the history of the Christian church through the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3 gives strong indications of who the descendants of the true church are today (for more details, please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3). This tracing provides information that demonstrates that the true Church of God (COG) is neither Protestant nor Eastern Orthodox nor Roman Catholic, but is truly the church that holds the same beliefs as the original apostles. And while most professing Christian faiths claim to have the faith of Jesus and His original apostles, many do not know what the original apostles or their faithful successors actually believed. The Bible clearly shows that Jesus walks in the midst of these seven churches (Revelation 1:9-13), showing that somehow they represent His church for the church age. The fact that there are seven churches addressed and the number seven suggests completion, combined with the fact that the churches are listed in the same order as they would receive mail in the Roman times, is also consistent with the view that these churches were to represent the true church throughout the ages in a type of sequential order of predominance. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Reading what both churches teach on various subjects should make it clear which one still teaches the faith that Jesus entrusted to His Church.

The Name of the Church

Both groups recognize that the name of the early church was often "Church of God." Over time, the Roman Catholics preferred Catholic which, while also in several of the early writings as a descriptor, is not used as the name of the Church in the New Testament. The Church of God acknowledges that the term "Church of God" has been used by itself, or with other descriptive terms, throughout history.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Apostle Paul wrote in the Catholic approved translation of the New Testament:

PAUL called to be an Apostle of JESUS Christ, by the will of God, and Sothenes a brother, To the Church of God that is at Corinth, to the sanctified in Christ JESUS, called to be saints, with all that invocate the name of our Lord JESUS Christ in every place of theirs and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2, Rheims New Testament).

PAUL an Apostle of JESUS Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the Church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia (2 Corinthians 1:1, Rheims New Testament).

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to converse in the house of God, which is the CHURCH of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15, Rheims New Testament).

(Note that I bolded the above, but did not capitalize anything--capitalization was by the Roman Catholic translators).

What is commonly called 1 Clement begins with:

The Church of God which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth, to them which are called and sanctified by the will of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, some of the earliest Roman Catholic accepted writings refer to the church as the Church of God.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states the following:

St. Paul...summoned "the presbyters of the Church", and in the course of his charge addressed them as follows: "Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost has placed you bishops to tend [poimainein] the Church of God" (xx, 28) (Joyce GH. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York)..

The word Catholic (katholikos from katholou -- throughout the whole, i.e., universal) occurs in the Greek classics, e.g., in Aristotle and Polybius, and was freely used by the earlier Christian writers in what we may call its primitive and non-ecclesiastical sense. Thus we meet such phrases as the "the catholic resurrection" (Justin Martyr), "the catholic goodness of God" (Tertullian), "the four catholic winds" (Irenaeus), where we should now speak of "the general resurrection", "the absolute or universal goodness of God", "the four principal winds", etc...

The combination "the Catholic Church" (he katholike ekklesia) is found for the first time in the letter of St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written about the year 110. The words run: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal [katholike] Church." However, in view of the context, some difference of opinion prevails as to the precise connotation of the italicized word...by the beginning of the fourth century it seems to have almost entirely supplanted the primitive and more general meaning...The reference (c. 155) to "the bishop of the catholic church in Smyrna" (Letter on the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, xvi), a phrase which necessarily presupposes a more technical use of the word, is due, some critics think, to interpolation...(Thurston H. Catholic. Transcribed by Gordon A. Jenness. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It probably should be mentioned that although Ignatius did use the expression "he katholike ekklesia" one time--he used it when addressing the Smyrnaeans (who we in the Church of God claim our descent through--hence we are the most faithful descendants of the original "catholic church") ,while he used a version of the expression at "church of God" least four times in the other letters he wrote at that time (see (Ignatius'Letter to the Philadelphians 0:0, 10:1; Letter to the Trallians 2:2; Letter to the Smyrnaeans 0:0).

Benedict XVI taught:

The Church is catholic, that is, universal, open to all cultures, to all continents (Benedict XVI Makes Appeal for Solidarity With Africa. Zenit.org, March 18, 2009. http://www.zenit.org/article-25406?l=english viewed 03/19/09).

Of course, the above could also be stated about the Church of God, as it is open to all cultures, to all continents, as it has churches on all continents.

The Roman Catholic Church itself has continued to sometimes use the expression "Church of God" throughout history. In the writings from the Second Council of Constantinople it uses the expression Church of God six times in reference to itself. Here is one of them:

But we, having a commandment to exhort the people with right doctrine, and to speak to the heart of Jerusalem, that is, the Church of God, do rightly make haste to sow in righteousness, and to reap the fruit of life; and kindling for ourselves the light of knowledge from the holy Scriptures, and the doctrine of the Fathers, we have considered it necessary to comprehend in certain Capitula, both the declaration of the truth, and the condemnation of heretics, and of their wickedness (Second Council of Constantinople, A.D. 553).

Church of God:

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32, NKJV).

Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? (1 Corinthians 11:22, NKJV).

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (1 Corinthians 15:9, NKJV).

For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it (Galatians 1:13, NKJV).

I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15, NKJV).

Polycarp wrote:

Polycarp and the presbyters with him to the church of God that sojourns at Philippi (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians. In Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers--Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI) p. 207).

Those in Polycarp's area wrote:

The church of God which sojourns at Smyrna to the church of God which sojourns in Philomelium (The Martyrdom of Polycarp. In Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers--Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI) p. 227).

The Church of God teaches:

The predominant biblical name of the true Church in the New Testament is “Church of God.” Variants of this expression are clearly stated singular and plural forms in twelve different places in the New Testament (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:16,22; ;15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:5,15).  Throughout Christian history, the true church has normally used a version of the expression “Church of God” (or Church of Christ, cf. Romans 16:16) though often with another term, like a geographic region (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2) or another word, with it (1 Timothy 3:15). Jesus said that Christians would be kept in His Father’s name (John 17:12), which most often is simply “God” in the New Testament, hence “Church of God.” The most faithful Church of God in the end times in the Book of Revelation is the Philadelphian one, but since only a remnant of that is left, the term Philadelphia remnant Church of God is an appropriate description of the portion of the Church of God that holds fast to Philadelphia era teachings. Since the true Church of God has continued from the time of the original apostles, the name Continuing Church of God helps convey that. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, 09/04/13)

Twelve times in the New Testament (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:16,22; ;15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:5,15), as well as throughout Christian history, the true church has used a version of the expression "Church of God" though often with another word, like a city or the word "living". The term universal or "Catholic" was not in the Bible or shown in early writings to be the name of the true Church, simply a description of one aspect of it. But by the fourth century, Catholic became recognized as the name for what we know commonly know as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches--even though they no longer held to the practices of the Smyrnaeans that Ignatius wrote to, when he used it originally.

New Testament Church Started in Jerusalem on Pentecost

Both teach that the New Testament Church started on Pentecost in Acts 2.

Roman Catholic Church:

The doctrine of the Church as set forth by the Apostles after the Ascension is in all respects identical with the teaching of Christ just described. St. Peter, in his first sermon, delivered on the day of Pentecost, declares that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messianic king (Acts 2:36). The means of salvation which he indicates is baptism; and by baptism his converts are aggregated to the society of disciples (ii, 41). Though in these days the Christians still availed themselves of the Temple services, yet from the first the brotherhood of Christ formed a society essentially distinct from the synagogue. The reason why St. Peter bids his hearers accept baptism is none other than that they may "save themselves from this unbelieving generation". Within the society of believers not only were the members united by common rites, but the tie of unity was so close as to bring about in the Church of Jerusalem that condition of things in which the disciples had all things common (ii, 44). Christ had declared that His kingdom should be spread among all nations, and had committed the execution of the work to the twelve (Matthew 28:19). Yet the universal mission of the Church revealed itself but gradually. St. Peter indeed makes mention of it from the first (Acts 2:39). (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1076 The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 304).

Church of God:

The first two “eras” of the Church of God (and the first two shown in the Book of Revelation) were those of Ephesus and Smyrna and lasted from the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (c. 31) until about the mid-fifth century (whose followers were sometimes called Nazarenes by outsiders–the Continuing Church of God traces its history through the original Nazarenes of the first through fifth centuries). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Strictly speaking, both groups believe that God had followers since Abel, but that a distinctly Christian Church was obvious by Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.

The Church Should Have a Hierarchical Governance

Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of God believe in hierarchical governance.

Roman Catholic Church:

The question at issue is, whether the Apostles did, or did not, establish in the Christian communities a hierarchical organization. All Catholic scholars, together with some few Protestants, hold that they did so.

...we find the Churches governed by a hierarchical organization of bishops, sometimes also termed presbyters, and deacons. That the terms bishop and presbyter are synonymous is evident from Titus 1:5-7: "I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest . . . ordain priests in every city . . . For a bishop must be without crime." These presbyters form a corporate body (1 Timothy 4:14), and they are entrusted with the twofold charge of governing the Church (1 Timothy 3:5) and of teaching (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9)...

The evidence thus far considered seems to demonstrate beyond all question that the hierarchical organization of the Church was, in its essential elements, the work of the Apostles themselves; and that to this hierarchy they handed on the charge entrusted to them by Christ of governing the Kingdom of God, and of teaching the revealed doctrine. (Joyce GH. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Acts 20:28..The word “overseers” translates the Greek episkopous, which will eventually come to mean “bishops.” …in Luke’s day, local church leaders could be called either elders or overseers, without a clear distinction between the terms…(Sullivan F.A., Priest. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001)

Church of God:

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The Church is ORGANIZED on GOD'S pattern of mutual teamwork and cooperation to function perfectly together. They shall become the GOD FAMILY as it shall exist at the time of Christ's Second Coming. Remember God IS that divine fAMILY! (Mystery of the Ages, pp.270-271).

"The PURPOSE for which Christ built the Church exemplifies its WORK...1) To ANNOUNCE to the world for its witness the coming Kingdom of God...2) To prepare the people to whom God adds to the Church...God has always worked with humans. He has worked with O N E  M A N at a time...The WORK consists of proclaiming the Gospel, by radio, by television, in print" (Armstrong HW. JUST WHAT IS THE WORK? PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.3, NO.6 February 6, 1981).

From the CCOG:

BIBLICAL GOVERNANCE

Jesus taught,“My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28) while the Apostle Paul taught “the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3), hence the top authority in the universe is God, the Father. Now “Christ is head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23) and “the Word” (John 1:14), thus no human religious leader is authorized to directly contradict the word of God (cf. Mark 12:13-27; Acts 5:29).

A hierarchical form of governance is taught in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:28) and is shown to be best for the Church (Ephesians 4:11-16).  The basic order being that under Jesus apostles, then prophets, then evangelists, then pastors, then teachers (Ephesians 4:11).

Since the time of Pentecost in Acts (Acts 2:1-4), ministers have been appointed through the laying on of hands from those who had the Holy Spirit, beginning with the apostles (Acts 9:17; 2 Timothy 1:6) and then through others who had hands laid upon them to be part of the ministry. While Christians should normally obey their spiritual leaders in the Lord (Hebrews 13:7,17), these leaders need to uphold biblical standards (1 Timothy 3:1-12; Hebrews 13:17) and govern as the type of servant Christ would have them be (Matthew 20:25-28). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13).

The top office in the Roman Church is that of the Bishop of Rome, the highest of the Roman bishops. A bishop is sort of like a supervising elder--the Church of God tends to normally use the term pastor or regional pastor instead of the term bishop, consistent with what Priest Sullivan admitted above (though the term bishop is sometimes used in the CCOG). The Roman Church also has a college of cardinals--cardinals are the "hinges" of the church and the concept comes from from pre-Christian times (please see the article Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom?).

The COG does not have cardinals, but does have an advisory council of elders who have some roles similar to the college of cardinals--though in reality those two bodies are quite different.

Peter Was Used to Lead the True Church

Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of God agree that Peter had a role that made him pre-eminent among the other apostles.

Roman Catholic Church:

Among the Twelve Peter soon became conspicuous. Though of irresolute character, he clings with the greatest fidelity, firmness of faith, and inward love to the Saviour; rash alike in word and act, he is full of zeal and enthusiasm, though momentarily easily accessible to external influences and intimidated by difficulties. The more prominent the Apostles become in the Evangelical narrative, the more conspicuous does Peter appear as the first among them. In the list of the Twelve on the occasion of their solemn call to the Apostolate, not only does Peter stand always at their head, but the surname Petrus given him by Christ is especially emphasized (Matthew 10:2): "Duodecim autem Apostolorum nomina haec: Primus Simon qui dicitur Petrus. . ."; Mark 3:14-16: "Et fecit ut essent duodecim cum illo, et ut mitteret eos praedicare . . . et imposuit Simoni nomen Petrus"; Luke 6:13-14: "Et cum dies factus esset, vocavit discipulos suos, et elegit duodecim ex ipsis (quos et Apostolos nominavit): Simonem, quem cognominavit Petrum . . ." On various occasions Peter speaks in the name of the other Apostles (Matthew 15:15; 19:27; Luke 12:41, etc.). When Christ's words are addressed to all the Apostles, Peter answers in their name (e.g., Matthew 16:16). Frequently the Saviour turns specially to Peter (Matthew 26:40; Luke 22:31, etc.) (Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 21 Aug. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm>).

Church of God:

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

In founding God's Church, Jesus worked primarily through one man, Peter, even though He originally chose His 12 disciples. Few have ever noticed that Peter was the real leader. Acts 15: Here is the crux chapter, not generally understood... The Jerusalem conference showed that PETER was preeminent over even Paul, although Paul was the ONE MAN God worked through primarily in the ministry to gentiles... This crucial crux chapter has been misunderstood, twisted and distorted. I have tried to take space to MAKE IT CLEAR in this article (Armstrong, Herbert W. Originally published in Worldwide News article 2/19/78 and quoted in the LCN. Jan-Feb 1999; p.7).

Notice also:

The Continuing Church of God also specifically traces its history from the original apostles like Peter, Paul, and John through through their faithful descendants like Polycarp, Polycrates, and certain other known early leaders/bishops in Asia Minor until the early third century, certain known leaders/bishops until around 135 A.D. in Jerusalem, and until around 211 A.D. leaders/bishops in Antioch like Serapion. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Peter was one of the original 12 apostles chosen By Christ. Peter, along with the Apostle John, played a prominent role in the early Christian church.

He was the Apostle to Israel while Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9). And in general, during his lifetime, Peter seemed to be the top leader of a widely geographically separated Christian church. Essentially Peter was the first among equals (the apostles).

However, he was only one of 12 original apostles, and there is nothing in scripture that suggests that the place of his death (which is not known as a certainty) should become the permanent headquarters for the true church. Nor is there any indication that the true Church should be forever based out of a single city or from Rome...

Look at what Paul wrote:

7. But contrariwise when they had seen that to me was committed the Gospel of the
prepuce, as to Peter of the circumcision
8. (for he that wrought in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also
among the Gentiles) (Galatians 2:7-8, Rheims NT of 1582, unless otherwise indicated).

Thus it does not appear that Peter was considered to be the bishop of Rome during Paul's lifetime (and they both died about the same time) as Rome was clearly a Gentile area.

If Peter, and he alone, had the keys, the fact that, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia "Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor" shows that PETER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE TIME THAT HE "HAD THE KEYS"! IT IS AN ABSOLUTE FACT THAT PETER WAS NOT THE BISHOP OF ROME BEGINNING WITH THE START OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH that began on the Pentecost after Jesus was resurrected (Acts 1-2). NOR COULD PETER HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE THIRTY-PLUS YEARS AFTER THAT TIME AS HE TRAVELED WITHIN ASIA MINOR AND TO JERUSALEM REPEATEDLY.

Rome is simply not close enough to Asia Minor or Jerusalem for Peter to have been based out of Rome. (Thiel B. Peter and Rome. http://www.cogwriter.com/peter.htm viewed 09/04/13)

While Peter played a predominant role among the apostles, after his death, that leadership role would have passed to another apostle (John) and not to an elder who may have lived in Rome. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/07/13)

A major difference between the two churches is that the Roman Church claims Peter died in Rome and placed Linus in charge to succeed him, and that the true church would be traced through Rome. However, there is no actual proof of that, plus according to the Bible (Hebrews 13:14) that is not possible (see also Was the Headquarters of the True Church Expected in Remain in One Location? a few sections below).

The Church of God believes that the Bible is clear that John was a pillar with Peter (Galatians 2:9) and that after the Apostle Peter died, the Apostle John became the pre-eminent leader.

The True Church Has the Faith of All the Apostles, Not Just One of Them

Both teach that the true Church has the apostolic faith.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic view is different from such an individualistic and mechanical approach. Its starting point is the collegium of the apostles as a whole; together they received the promise that Jesus Christ will be with them till the end of the world (Matt 28, 20). So after the death of the historical apostles they had to co–opt others who took over some of their apostolic functions. In this sense the whole of the episcopate stands in succession to the whole of the collegium of the apostles.

To stand in the apostolic succession is not a matter of an individual historical chain but of collegial membership in a collegium, which as a whole goes back to the apostles by sharing the same apostolic faith and the same apostolic mission (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Keynote speech from the Conference of the Society for Ecumenical Studies, the St. Alban's Christian Study Centre and the Hertfordshire Newman Association at St. Alban's Abbey, Hertfordshire, England, on May 17, 2003).

Church of God:

Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, NKJV),  Let brotherly love (Philadelphia) continue (Hebrews 13:1)…continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42 YLT)...

The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, our doctrines, practices, policies and traditions have their roots in the original Jerusalem church (Acts 2, c. 31 A.D.), as well as through the faithful in Antioch & Asia Minor in the first (such as the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John) and second centuries A.D. (such leaders as Polycarp, Thaseas, Serapion, and Polycrates). Many of whose followers went throughout the world establishing congregations through the ages. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13.

Hence current leaders in both groups recognize that the example of the apostles plural. Both proclaim that the true church has the same mission and the same teachings as the apostles. And of course, there is no legitimate type of apostolic succession without that.

John The Apostle Was a Prominent Leader, He Went to Ephesus, and Kept Passover on the 14th

Both teach that John was a prominent leader, kept the 14th Passover, was in Ephesus, and started/led churches.

Roman Catholic Church:

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body...St. Paul in opposing his enemies in Galatia names John explicitly along with Peter and James the Less as a "pillar of the Church"...the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province (Fonck L. Transcribed by Michael Little. St. John the Evangelist. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Asia Minor was the principal scene of the labours of St. John; he wrote his Apocalypse on the desolate island of Patmos, and his Gospel probably at Ephesus. He established firmly in the latter city a famous centre of Christian life...From Ephesus St. John traveled much throughout Asia Minor and has always been credited with the first establishment of many of its episcopal sees...St. Peter, too, preached the Christian Faith in Asia Minor (Shahan, Thomas J. Transcribed by WG Kofron. Asia Minor. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Further, Irenaeus states that St. Polycarp, who like the other Asiatics, kept...the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle (Thurston, Herbert. Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett. Easter Controversy. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Yet the Roman Catholic Church now indicates that observing Passover on the 14th has been regarded as heresy. Notice:

Still others...were called 'Quartodecimans", because they wanted Easter to always be on the quartodecima die, the fourteenth day, of the Jewish month of Nisan, when Passover is. They were regarded as heretics...In fact, whole segments of Christianity split with the Church over this issue (Johnson, Kevin Orlin. Expressions of the Catholic Faith. Nihil Obstat Robert A. Coerver, Censor Librorum. Imprimatur + Charles Grahmann, D.D., Bishop of Dallas. Ballantine Books, New York, 1994, p. 82).

Church of God:

From Polycrates near the end of the second century:

...the saints. Among these are John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord...observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

From the Church of God:

Writing at the close of the first century, almost 30 years after the rest of the New Testament was completed, the aged Apostle John had to contend with heresies that were far more widespread than those of the days of Paul and Jude. John repeatedly emphasized the necessity of keeping God’s commandments (1 John 2:3; 3:4, 22; 5:3). He stressed in 2 John 7: "Many deceivers have gone out into the world." In 3 John 9–10, a leader by the name of Diotrephes had gained control of some congregations in Asia Minor and was actually putting out of the Church true Christians that remained loyal to the aged Apostle John and his teachings...Polycrates was the successor of Polycarp who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John...The Apostle John died in Ephesus at the end of the first century (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

The Church of God considers that while Peter was also a faithful apostle, that after Peter's death, John (the last of the original apostles to die) became the primary leader--it was the Apostle John that was Peter's immediate successor-- Peter was not followed by a succession of presbyters in Rome to rule all Christendom (which many Roman Catholic scholars understand).

Thus while both groups consider that John was a faithful leader, the COG traces its leadership history through the Apostle John after the deaths of Peter and Paul, while the Roman Catholics prefer to believe that a non-apostle named Linus was the leader after Peter and Paul died (though several of their earliest historical source differ and claim Clement, and not Linus). For more information, please see the article on Apostolic Succession.

Polycarp Was A Successor to the Apostles

Both teach that Polycarp was a successor to the apostles and kept the 14th Passover.

Roman Catholic Church:

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Church of God:

Polycarp (ca. 69–155AD) had been a personal disciple of the Apostle John and was one of the few church leaders of his day to hold fast to the Truth...The Apostle John died in Ephesus at the end of the first century. The next faithful leader in Asia Minor...was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. As a young man, Polycarp had been a personal disciple of John and had observed the Passover with him on several occasions. Polycarp became prominent during the first couple of decades of the second century. The churches under his leadership remained one of the few areas where God’s Festivals continued to be observed throughout the remainder of the second century. In his old age, Polycarp even made a journey to Rome seeking to convince the bishop of Rome, Anicetus, of his errors in not celebrating the biblical Passover date and in observing, in its place, an annual Sunday Paschal observance (Easter) and a weekly celebration of "Eucharist" (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

Although both the Roman Catholics and COG acknowledge Polycarp was a successor to the apostles, only the Church of God continues Polycarp's practices such as observing the Passover on the biblical date, instead of Easter. And it is the COG that traces its leadership history from Peter to the Apostle John then essentially to Polycarp, and then through physical and spiritual successors of Polycarp (many of which are no longer known).

The Original Church in Smyrna Was Faithful

Both teach that the original church in Smyrna was faithful to what was taught by the apostles.

Roman Catholic Church:

Smyrna...Christianity was preached to the inhabitants at an early date. As early as the year 93, there existed a Christian community directed by a bishop for whom St. John in the Apocalypse (i, II; ii, 8-11) has only words of praise…There were other Christians in the vicinity of the city and dependent on it to whom St. Polycarp wrote letters (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", V, xxiv) (Vailhe’ S. Transcribed by Lucia Tobin. Smyrna. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles...(Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3).

Anyhow the heresies are at best novelties, and have no continuity with the teaching of Christ. Perhaps some heretics may claim Apostolic antiquity: we reply: Let them publish the origins of their churches and unroll the catalogue of their bishops till now from the Apostles or from some bishop appointed by the Apostles, as the Smyrnaeans count from Polycarp and John, and the Romans from Clement and Peter; let heretics invent something to match this (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum, circa 208 A.D. As quoted in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

The Church at Smyrna is the second of the seven Revelation churches to be addressed. The Apostle John died in Ephesus at the end of the first century. The next faithful leader in Asia Minor...was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna...In the closing decades of the second century, Polycrates, a faithful church leader who had been personally trained by Polycarp, arose...

Victor of Rome sought to intimidate the churches of Asia Minor into conforming to the Roman Easter practice. Polycrates wrote Victor:

"We therefore observe the genuine day [Passover]; neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom. For in Asia great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again in the day of the Lord’s appearing, in which he will come with glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints; Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis… John, who rested upon the bosom of our Lord… Polycarp of Smyrna… All these observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the gospel deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith… and my relatives always observed the day when the people threw away the leaven [Abib 14]. I, therefore, brethren, am now 65 years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the sacred Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’" (Eusebius, xxiv)...

The great test of the Smyrna Era lay in two areas. One was their ability to distinguish between the continuation of the true Church of God and what was, in reality, the emerging Synagogue of Satan. The other lay in their willingness to endure persecution and even death in order to remain faithful to God (Revelation 2:9–10) (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

It may be of interest to note that Tertullian claimed that only two churches, the Roman one and the Smyrnaean one, could truly have any apostolic claim. We in COG, of course, believe that it is only one, the one that considers the Smyrnaeans as their ancestors, that could be the true church today. The Roman Catholics do not keep various practices of the faithful Smyrnaeans such as Passover on the 14th or the days of unleavened bread. More about the practices of the Smyrnaeans is included in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome.

Pentecost Was Observed on a Sunday

Although many, but not all, Jews observe Pentecost on Sivan 6, both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of God observe Pentecost on a Sunday.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

Pentecost...The term, adopted from the Greek-speaking Jews (Tob. 2:1; II Mac. 12:32; Josephus, "Ant.", III, x, 6; etc.) alludes to the fact that the feast, known in the Old Testament as "the feast of harvest of the firstfruits" (Exodus 23:16), "the feast of weeks" (Exodus 24:22; Deuteronomy 16:10: II Paralipomenon 8:13), the "day of firstfruits" (Numbers 28:26), and called by later Jews 'asereth or 'asartha (solemn assembly, and probably "closing festival", Pentecost being the closing festival of the harvest and of the Paschal season) (Souvay C.L. Transcribed by Mark E. Maier. Pentecost (Jewish Feast) The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Pentecost (Whitsunday) A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigil; Pentecost ("Pfingsten" in German), is the Greek for "the fiftieth"...

Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century...That Whitsunday belongs to the Apostolic times is stated in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Irenæus. In Tertullian (De bapt., xix) the festival appears as already well established (Holweck F.G. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Pentecost (Whitsunday). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York)

Church of God:

Pentecost was kept on Sunday by certain Jews and was observed then by professing Christians...

Pentecost, described in the Hebrew scriptures as “the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits” (Exodus 23:16), pictures the start of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:1-4). Pentecost also helps picture that Christians are a type of firstfruits of God’s harvest (Romans 8:23; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; James 1:18), though “the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37-38). “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4-5). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Both groups also recognize that Pentecost was observed by the early church--please see the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

The Churches in Asia Minor, like Smyrna, Kept the Sabbath, Which is the Seventh Day of the Week

Writings that both groups accept show that the Churches throughout Asia Minor, including Smyrna, kept the seventh-day Sabbath.

Roman Catholic Church:

The New Jerusalem Bible shows that the Apostle Paul taught that Christians should keep the seventh-day Sabbath:

3 We, however, who have faith, are entering a place of rest, as in the text: And then in my anger I swore that they would never enter my place of rest. Now God's work was all finished at the beginning of the world; 4 as one text says, referring to the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. 5 And, again, the passage above says: They will never reach my place of rest. 6 It remains the case, then, that there would be some people who would reach it, and since those who first heard the good news were prevented from entering by their refusal to believe…9 There must still be, therefore, a seventh-day rest reserved for God's people, 10 since to enter the place of rest is to rest after your work, as God did after his. 11 Let us, then, press forward to enter this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of refusal to believe and be lost. (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NJB)

Even Origen understood some of what Paul wrote above as he wrote:

But what is the feast of the Sabbath except that which the apostle speaks, "There remaineth therefore a Sabbatism," that is, the observance of the Sabbath, by the people of God...let us see how the Sabbath ought to be observed by a Christian. On the Sabbath-day all worldly labors ought to be abstained from...give yourselves up to spiritual exercises, repairing to church, attending to sacred reading and instruction...this is the observance of the Christian Sabbath (Translated from Origen's Opera 2, Paris, 1733, Andrews J.N. in History of the Sabbath, 3rd editon, 1887. Reprint Teach Services, Brushton (NY), 1998, pp. 324-325).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

St. Paul visited many parts of Asia Minor and established there the first Christian churches; in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Acts there is a vivid and circumstantial description of all the chief phases of his Apostolic activity (Asia Minor. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Notice that the Sabbath then must have been one of the chief phases of the Apostle Paul's practices for see what is recorded in the Rheims' New Testament:

But they passing through Perge, came to Antioch in Pisidia: and entering into the synagogue on the day of the Sabbaths, they sat down...

And they going forth, they desired them that the Sabbath following they would speak unto them these words. And when the synagogue was dismissed, many of the Jews, and of the strangers serving God, followed Paul and Barnabas: who speaking exhorted them to continue in the grace of God. But the next Sabbath the whole city almost assembled to hear the word of God (Acts 13:14,42-44).

Note: Antioch in Pisidia is in Asia Minor (which is a different town than Antioch in Syria). As is Iconium below:

AND it came to pass at Iconium that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a very great multitude of Jews and of the Greeks did believe (Acts 15:1, RNT)

In Ephesus of Asia Minor, Catholic Saint Justin Martyr wrote, in response to a Jew named Trypho,

But if, Trypho, some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them (Justin.  Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 47. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus, Justin admits that there were two groups in Ephesus, one that kept all the law and the other that did not. He also admits that he did not approve of those who kept the law.

Justin Martyr records this accusation from Trypho,

But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or Sabbaths…you do not obey His commandments (Justin Martyr.  Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 10. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).    

While the Ephesians were told to live differently than the other Gentiles in whose nation they co-existed with, those with Justin Martyr could not be distinguished. It is interesting to note that Trypho expected that Justin would have kept the Sabbath--this is because that was the common practice of those that professed Christ in Asia Minor.

According to the letter The Martyrdom of Polycarp by the Smyrnaeans of Asia Minor:

...on the day of the preparation, at the hour of dinner, there came out pursuers and horsemen" and the Polycarp was killed "on the day of the great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Verses 7.1 & 8.1. Charles H. Hoole's 1885 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby).

The use of these two expressions ("day of the preparation" and "the day of the great Sabbath") demonstrate that the Smyrnaeans were still keeping the Sabbath in the latter portion of the 2nd century (otherwise other terms would have been more appropriate--non-Sabbath observers do not call the day before Saturday "the day of preparation"). Since Asia Minor (including Smyrna) was a Gentile area, the terms preparation and Sabbath would not have been relevant.

Sabbath-keeping in Asia Minor was publicly still going on to at least 364 A.D. or else the Eastern Church would not have convened a Council in Laodicea to excommunicate any who rested on the seventh day as it declared,

CANON XXIX. CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ (THE COMPLETE CANONS OF THE SYNOD OF LAODICEA IN PHRYGIA PACATIANA).

Around 404 A.D. Catholic Saint Jerome noted,

...the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e....keeping the Jewish Sabbath…there exists a sect among… the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of , the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again (Jerome. Translated by J.G. Cunningham, M.A. From Jerome to Augustine (A.D. 404); LETTER 75 (AUGUSTINE) OR 112 (JEROME). Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series One, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1887. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

It should be noted that Smyrna and all of Asia Minor are included in the area referred to above as the East.

In the fifth century, the Catholic-supporting historian Socrates noted:

For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus while Rome and Egypt dropped the Saturday Sabbath, its historically-accepted records show that those in Asia Minor and elsewhere still observed it.

Even leading Roman Catholic scholars know that the Bible itself endorses the Saturday Sabbath, though it now endorses something called "the eighth day"--a term never found in the New Testament to denote a day of worship:

But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday.  The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify (Gibbons, James Cardinal. Faith of Our Fathers. First published 1876).

The Sabbath is the seventh day, but the Lord's Day, coming after the seventh, must needs be the eighth, and is also to be reckoned the first. For it is called the first day of the week, and so from it are reckoned the second, third, fourth, and so on to the seventh day of the week, which is the Sabbath. But from Lord's Day to Lord's Day is eight days...(Augustine. Exposition on Psalm 150, Chapter 1).

The sabbath...The sacred text says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done"...and that God "rested on this day and sanctified and blessed it"...But for us a new day has dawned...the eighth day (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 345,349. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, New York, 1994, p. 100).

Much more on "the eighth day" can be found in the article Sunday and Christianity.

Church of God:

J. F. Coltheart put the following citations together which shows that scholars do understand that early Christians and others did in fact keep the seventh-day sabbath:

The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons. And it is not to be doubted but they derived this practice from the Apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to that purpose. (Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, p. 189. London: 1701, by Dr. T.H. Morer).

. . . The Sabbath was a strong tie which united them with the life of the whole people, and in keeping the Sabbath holy they followed not only the example but also the command of Jesus. (Geschichte des Sonntags, pp. 13, 14).

The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews . . . therefore the Christians, for a long time together, did keep their conventions upon the Sabbath, in which some portions of the law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council." The Whole Works of Jeremy Taylor, Vol. IX, p. 416 (R. Heber’s Edition, Vol. XII, p. 416).

The Church of God specifically recognizes:

The churches in Asia Minor under Polycarp’s leadership observed the Sabbath and the Holy Days (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

Since both COG and Roman Catholic accepted sources state that those in Polycarp's area (Asia Minor and Smyrna) kept the Sabbath and both claim that the Church in Smyrna was faithful to the original apostolic teachings, why then would the Roman Catholic Church no longer continue to follow that apostolic practice?

Was the Headquarters of the True Church Expected in Remain in One Location?

This is an area that both groups disagree on.

Roman Catholic Church:

According to the Rheims' New Testament, Christians could not have a headquarters that was always in one city:

For we have not here a permanent city: but we seek that which is to come (Hebrews 13:14).

However, the Roman Catholic Church itself seems to have a different view:

It has been seen that Christ not only established the episcopate in the persons of the Twelve but, further, created in St. Peter the office of supreme pastor of the Church. Early Christian history tells us that before his death, he fixed his residence at Rome, and ruled the Church there as its bishop. It is from Rome that he dates his first Epistle, speaking of the city under the name of Babylon, a designation which St. John also gives it in the Apocalypse (c. xviii). At Rome, too, he suffered martyrdom in company with St. Paul, A.D. 67. The list of his successors in the see is known, from Linus, Anacletus, and Clement, who were the first to follow him, down to the reigning pontiff. The Church has ever seen in the occupant of the See of Rome the successor of Peter in the supreme pastorate (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

God’s Church has endured through the ages. It is a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), but God has always remained true to His promise that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)...The Jerusalem Church of God...under the leadership...fled Jerusalem shortly before 70AD and went to Pella, a remote desert community...Writing at the close of the first century, almost 30 years after the rest of the New Testament was completed, the aged Apostle John {who was based out of Ephesus} had to contend with heresies...Polycarp (ca. 69–155AD) {who was based out of Smyrna} had been a personal disciple of the Apostle John and was one of the few church leaders of his day to hold fast to the Truth...the true Church of God....In the aftermath of the Council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine and his successors sought to stamp out all non-conforming brands of Christianity. Groups that refused to conform to the teachings and practices of the "established" church, which now called itself the Catholic (universal) Church of God, were viewed not merely as heretics, but as subversive enemies of the Roman state...The true Church, symbolized by a woman in Revelation 12, was forced to flee into the wilderness...Thus, the true Church would have to remain in hiding for 1,260 years following the Nicene Council. Historically, that is what happened. Though these were truly dark ages, there was a light that continued to burn. Its flame sometimes flickered, but it was never extinguished.  Several problems confront any church scholar or historian who wishes to trace the wanderings of the true Church during this 1,260-year period. This is because the true Church’s history is not about one continuous human organization. The preserved history of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God has been almost entirely written by its enemies who viewed it as heretical (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

The first two “eras” of the Church of God (and the first two shown in the Book of Revelation) were those of Ephesus and Smyrna and lasted from the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (c. 31) until about the mid-fifth century (whose followers were sometimes called Nazarenes by outsiders–the Continuing Church of God traces its history through the original Nazarenes of the first through fifth centuries). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Let us look at what Jesus and Paul taught on this matter:

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:22-23).

For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come (Hebrews 13:14).

Jesus, of course, has not yet returned. Whatever Christians there have been in the area of Palestine have been chased through all the cities in that geographic region since Jesus stated this (the Crusades helped insure this). Thus Jesus must be referring to more cities than just those in the area of Palestine (such as those Jacob was alluding to in Genesis 49:1-27). Jesus, thus, seems to be prophesying that it would not be possible that the headquarters of the true church could permanently remain in any one city for hundreds or nearly two thousand years. And Paul specifically says that we Christians do not have a continuing city--one whose headquarters would be relatively permanent. These statements from Jesus and Paul would suggest that only a church whose headquarters moved relatively often could possibly be the true church. One like the Continuing Church of God.

Furthermore, since John prophesied a time that the church would flee into the wilderness for apparently 1260 years (based on each day representing one year, such as shown in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6) in Revelation 12:6, this strongly suggests that the true church would be hard to locate for a very long time--and this simply is not the case with the Roman Catholic Church, but is the case for the Church of God (an article of possible interest may be The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3).

How Did the Early Clergy/Ministry Dress?

Both groups agree on how the earliest ministers dressed.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

Stephen 1...it is generally believed that he was consecrated 12 May, 254, and that he died 2 August, 257...In his days the vestments worn by the clergy at Mass and other church services did not differ in shape or material from those ordinarily worn by the laity (Mann H. Transcribed by Kenneth M. Caldwell. Pope St. Stephen I. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The liturgical vestments have by no means remained the same from the founding of the Church until the present day. There is as great a difference between the vestments worn at the Holy Sacrifice in the pre-Constantinian period, and even in the following centuries, and those now customary at the services of the Church, as between the rite of the early Church and that of modern times...Four main periods may be distinguished in the development of the Christian priestly dress. The first embraces the era before Constantine. In that period the priestly dress did not yet differ from the secular costume in form and ornament. The dress of daily life was worn at the offices of the Church. In times of peace and under normal conditions better garments were probably used...The second period embraces the time from about the fourth to the ninth century. It is the most important epoch in the history of liturgical vestments, the epoch in which not merely a priestly dress in a special sense was created, but one which at the same time determined the chief vestments of the present liturgical dress (Braun J. Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett. Vestments. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, up until at least the fourth century, even Catholic leaders did not dress differently than members. It was apparently at least partially-based upon the influence of Constantine that this changed.

A former priest wrote:

Rome...successors will be not the servants but the masters of the world. They will dress in purple like Nero and call themselves Pontifex Maximus...

By the time Stephen III became pope, the church was thoroughly converted to the Roman Empire. From the Donation, it is plain that the Bishop of Rome looked like Constantine, lived like him, dressed liked him, inhabited his palaces, ruled over his lands, had exactly the same imperial outlook. The pope, too, wanted to lord it over church and state. (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 2000, pp. 34,45).

Church of God:

Jesus did not wear distinctive clothing or else Judas would not have had to point Him out:

Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him (Matthew 26:48-49).

Paul did not wear distinctive clothing or he would not have been misidentified:

Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, "May I speak to you?" He replied, "Can you speak Greek? Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?" (Acts 21:37-38).

There is no record in the New Testament of any instruction for the clergy/ministry to dress differently than the lay members. The true leaders from Jesus to Paul to Polycarp to beyond simply did not dress in special vestments. Thus there was no biblical reason considered necessary for vestments, etc.

The ministry of the COG wears clothing appropriate for their respective cultures. There is no clear distinction in dress for the ministry compared to the laity.

Actually, because of widespread persecution, it would have been dangerous for elders/presbyters/bishops to adopt the type of dress Catholic clergy now wear in the days of early Christianity. It should be noted that early leaders/elders/priest did not have liturgical vestments as the Catholic/Orthodox priests and others now wear, as they did not exist that early. This is a minor, but noticeable, physical example of how the COG is more faithful to the original practices of the Christian church than the Roman Catholic Church is. More information on dress is included in the article What Were the Early Duties of Elders/Pastors?

Celibacy for Elders/Priests

Both groups do not require celibacy of their ministers. This later changed in the Roman Church.

Roman Catholic Church:

According to the Apostle Paul, bishops and elders were supposed to have a wife and children to demonstrate they could handle a church as he wrote:

1.FAITHFUL saying. If a man desire a Bishops office, he desireth a good work.
2. It behoveth therefore a Bishop to be irreprehensible, the husband of one wife,
sober, wise, comely, chaste, a man of hospitality, a teacher,
3. Not given to wine, no fighter, but modest, no quarreler, not covetous,
4. Well ruling his own house, chaving his children subject with all charity.
5. But if a man know not to rule his own house: how shall he have care of the Church of
God? (1 Timothy 3:1-5).

5. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest reform the things that are
wanting, and shouldst ordain priests by cities, as I also appointed thee:
6. If any be without crime, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not in the
accusations of riot, or not obedient.
7. For a Bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not angry, nor
given to wine, no striker, nor covetous of filthy lucre (Titus 1:5-7).

Hippolytus notes that in the third century, celibacy was not required for the clergy (and least not by his rival, Roman Bishop Callistus):

About the time of this man, bishops, priests, and deacons, who had been twice married, and thrice married, began to be allowed to retain their place among the clergy (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Even The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that from the beginning, celibacy was not a requirement for church leaders:

Turning now to the historical development of the present law of celibacy, we must necessarily begin with St. Paul's direction (1 Timothy 3:2, 12, and Titus 1:6) that a bishop or a deacon should be "the husband of one wife". These passages seem fatal to any contention that celibacy was made obligatory upon the clergy from the beginning (Thurston H. Transcribed by Christine J. Murray. Celibacy of the Clergy. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Celibacy became an ideal for the clergy in the East gradually, as it did in the West. In the fourth century we still find St. Gregory Nazianzen's father, who was Bishop of Nanzianzos, living with his wife, without scandal. But very soon after that the present Eastern rule obtained. It is less strict than in the West. No one can marry after he has been ordained priest (Paphnutius at the first Council of Nicaea maintains this; the first Canon of the Synod of Neocaesarea in 314 or 325, and Can. Apost., xxvi. The Synod of Elvira about 300 had decreed absolute celibacy for all clerks in the West, Can. xxxiii, ib., pp. 238-239); priests already married may keep their wives (the same law applied to deacons and subdeacons: Can. vi of the Synod in Trullo, 692), but bishops must be celibate. As nearly all secular priests were married this meant that, as a general rule, bishops were chosen from the monasteries, and so these became, as they still are, the road through advancement may be attained (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Marie Jutras. Eastern Monasticism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus the celibacy requirement for clergy did not occur until the fourth century. It, however, contradicts the biblical teaching on this matter and has never been a requirement for the true Church of God.

Church of God:

Paul specifically confirmed that the apostles had a wife and that he had a right to have a wife in the first century when he wrote:

4. Have not we power to eat and drink?
5. Have we not power to lead about a woman a sister, as also the rest of the Apostles, and
our Lords brethren, and Cephas?
6. Or I only and Barnabas have not we power to do this? (1 Corinthians 9:4-6, RNT).

While Polycrates confirmed this for the second century when he wrote

Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus...All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 25).

Polycrates probably would not have been one of a line of bishops if all bishops and church leaders practiced celibacy. Note that since the Apostle Philip had at least three daughters, he could not have practiced celibacy.

Now everyone is aware that Peter had a wife (see Matthew 8:14), but did you know that even Judas had a wife (cf. Acts 1:20, Psalm 109:8-9)?

The presiding evangelist (and actually all the evangelists) in the Church of God is married.

Hence, celibacy was another change in the Roman Church. More information on that can be found in the article Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters?. The Roman Church has had a great deal of sex-scandels in its history and in modern times, heavily caused by this change.

Head Coverings for Overseers/Bishops

Both groups agree that the ordained leadership did not originally wear head coverings to church services or while praying.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Rheims New Testament in 1 Corinthians 11 teaches:

3. And I will have you know, that the head of every man, is Christ: and the head of the woman, is the man: and the head of Christ, is God.
4. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered: dishonorest his head.
5. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered: dishonorest her
head: for it is all one as if she were made bald.
6. For if a woman be not covered, let her be polled. but if it be a foul thing for a woman to
be polled or made bald: let her cover her head.
7. The man truly ought not to cover his head...

Notice the only verse explanation given in the Annotations related to the above:

5. Every woman. ] What gifts of God soever women have, though supernatural, as some had
in the Primitive Church, yet they may not forget their womanly shamefastness 24, but show themselves
subject and modest, and cover their heads with a veil.

...24 shamefastness: modesty, bashfulness, decency.

And while it is not a biblical requirement that women must be required to wear veils, as hair length for a covering is the main subject here (please see Veils and Other Coverings), notice that the Catholic explanation of this is that to have one's head covered means a veil or some type of head covering. Thus, it should be clear that Catholic scholars should recognize that priests, bishops, and even popes should NOT wear head coverings at church or when publicly praying--yet they do.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

The Ninth Ordo states that the camelaucum was made of white stuff and shaped like a helmet...The camelaucum was worn by the pope principally during solemn processions. The mitre developed from the camelaucum in this way: in the course of the tenth century the pope began to wear this head-covering not merely during processions to the church, but also during the subsequent church service...

The Roman cardinals certainly had already the right to wear the mitre towards the end of the eleventh century. Probably they possessed the privilege as early as in the first half of the century...

In the Orthodox Greek Rite (the other Greek Rites need not here be considered) a liturgical head-covering was not worn until the sixteenth century. Before this only the Patriarch of Alexandria, who wore one as early as the tenth century, made use of a head-covering, and his was only a simple cap (Braun J. Transcribed by William Stuart French, Jr. Mitre. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Also notice that it took many centuries before Catholic leaders did wear the type of head coverings that they now do. Hence, head coverings for priests/bishops/popes did not come from either the Bible OR early tradition.

Church of God:

Church of God leaders follow the teachings of the Bible, including 1 Corinthians 11:3-4. They do not pray or conduct church services wearing hats, mitres, or other head coverings. However, just like the Bible allowed the priests in the Old Testament to have beards (e.g. Leviticus 21:1-5; Psalm 133:22), church leaders can have beards or other facial coverings (though in modern times few do).

Every Catholic bishop or pope I have seen praying has done so wearing some type of head covering--and thus they are dishonoring their head (who is supposed to be Christ) by praying that way. Hence, they are disqualifying themselves as true Christian leaders by their head coverings.

Therefore, just seeing the appearance of any Catholic bishop should be enough to show people that the Church of God is more faithful than the Roman Catholic Church to the Bible and early traditions of the Church.

An article of related interest may be What Were the Early Duties and Dress of Elders/Pastors?.

Confession and Penance

Both groups believe in confession, though currently in different ways, and both a different view on penance.

Roman Catholic Church:

Notice some claims from The Catholic Encyclopedia about confession and penance:

Penance is a sacrament of the New Law instituted by Christ in which forgiveness of sins committed after baptism is granted through the priest's absolution to those who with true sorrow confess their sins and promise to satisfy for the same...the Council of Trent declares, Christ principally instituted the Sacrament of Penance after His Resurrection, a miracle greater than that of healing the sick. "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained' (John 20:21-23)... Clement I (d. 99) in his Epistle to the Corinthians not only exhorts to repentance, but begs the seditious to "submit themselves to the presbyters and receive correction so as to repent" (chapter 57), and Ignatius of Antioch at the close of the first century speaks of the mercy of God to sinners, provided they return" with one consent to the unity of Christ and the communion of the bishop". The clause "communion of the bishop" evidently means the bishop with his council of presbyters as assessors. He also says (Letter to the Philadelphians) "that the bishop presides over penance". (Hanna, Edward. The Sacrament of Penance. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 18 May 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11618c.htm>)

The Council of Trent in the 16th century declared the following:

CANON VI.--If any one denieth, either that sacramental confession was instituted, or is necessary to salvation, of divine right; or saith, that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Church hath ever observed from the beginning, and doth observe, is alien from the institution and command of Christ, and is a human invention; let him be anathema. (The Council of Trent The Fourteenth Session The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent, Ed. and trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848), 92-121. Hanover Historical Texts Project Scanned by Hanover College students in 1995. http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct14.html 05/19/12)

Yet, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1447 Over the centuries the concrete form in which the Church has exercised this power received from the Lord has varied considerably. During the first centuries the reconciliation of Christians who had committed particularly grave sins after their Baptism (for example, idolatry, murder, or adultery) was tied to a very rigorous discipline, according to which penitents had to do public penance for their sins, often for years, before receiving reconciliation. To this "order of penitents" (which concerned only certain grave sins), one was only rarely admitted and in certain regions only once in a lifetime. During the seventh century Irish missionaries, inspired by the Eastern monastic tradition, took to continental Europe the "private" practice of penance, which does not require public and prolonged completion of penitential works before reconciliation with the Church. From that time on, the sacrament has been performed in secret between penitent and priest. This new practice envisioned the possibility of repetition and so opened the way to a regular frequenting of this sacrament. It allowed the forgiveness of grave sins and venial sins to be integrated into one sacramental celebration. In its main lines this is the form of penance that the Church has practiced down to our day. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1447. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Image Books by Doubleday, NY 2003, p. 31).

So, the Council of Trent, which made statements of dogma and faith and were approved by the Pope, was in error as it contradicts church history and this is basically now admitted in the Catechism--thus on this and other subjects, the idea of papal infallibility is disprovable. For more details on confession and penance, please see the article History of Auricular Confession and the 'Sacrament of Confession'.

Church of God:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia, in Asia, which has obtained mercy, and is established in the harmony of God, and rejoices unceasingly in the passion of our Lord, and is filled with all mercy through his resurrection; which I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our eternal and enduring joy, especially if [men] are in unity with the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons, who have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom He has established in security, after His own will, and by His Holy Spirit... 3...For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. (Ignatius. Letter to the Philadelphians, Chapters 0,3. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0108.htm>)

Upon repentance and baptism, God justifies repentant Christians from their past sins. Christians then begin an ongoing process of “being saved“ as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and having Christ live us (Galatians 2:20). Salvation for those Christians in this age will be complete at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-54); “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28)...

Accepting the message of Jesus leads to “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1), baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), and the “laying on of hands” (Hebrews 6:2; cf. Acts 8:14-17) so “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Penance vs. Repentance

The true Church of God which existed since the beginning (see, for example, the page The History of Early Christianity) is not Protestant (see, for example, the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants). It bases its beliefs primarily upon the Bible, which teaches:

38 'You must repent,' Peter answered, 'and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, NJB)

Repentance was taught for becoming a Christian, and acknowledging our sins to God is taught for remaining one:

8 If we say, 'We have no sin,' we are deceiving ourselves, and truth has no place in us; 9 if we acknowledge our sins, he is trustworthy and upright, so that he will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all evil. (1 John 1:9, NJB)

Christians are not to inflict punishment on ourselves, thinking that this will force God to hear our prayers (Isaiah 58:2-7). God is not interested in penance, but repentance and change. We should not be like certain Muslims and whip our backs, while effectively saying, "Look at our suffering, God, so hear us."

The late John Ogwyn wrote:

Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance

Many people equate repentance with being sorry. But real repentance is not simply "being sorry," nor is it the equivalent of the penance practiced by some religions. The concept of penance is that certain good actions can atone for previous bad ones. If real repentance is not equated with remorse, regret or even acts of penance, then what is it?

There are several words rendered "repent" in the Bible. The Hebrew term generally used in the Old Testament is shub, which means "to turn." In its meaning, the word goes "beyond contrition and sorrow to a conscious decision of turning to God" (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 909). In the New Testament there are two Greek words used to describe repentance. One is epistrepho, which means "to convert, to change, to turn to or against" (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 1095). The other is metanoia, which literally means a "change of mind." Real repentance is not simply a feeling or an emotion, nor a mere act of contrition or atonement. It prompts an about face in life!

Before we can repent, we must know what sin actually is, and we must be absolutely convinced that God is right and that we are wrong. The Bible defines sin for us by telling us in 1 John 3:4: "To commit sin is to break God's law: sin, in fact, is lawlessness" (NEB). God's law defines sin. Which law? The great spiritual law (Romans 7:14) summed up in the Ten Commandments! Paul explained in Romans 7:7 that he would have had no way of knowing that lust was a sin except that the law, the Tenth Commandment, said, "You shall not covet."

Repentance involves a mindset of unconditional surrender to God of our life and our will. We must come to God acknowledging our sin with no excuses, and recognizing our utter lack of self-sufficiency to transform ourselves. If we admit our powerlessness to change ourselves on our own, then believe and trust in God's power to do so through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, and humbly ask Him to take over our lives, we are on the way! We must then continue to search our lives and be willing to confess our sins and shortcomings as we discover them. (Ogwyn J. Can You Really Change Your Life? Tomorrow's World magazine, May-June 2001)

And while the Bible advocates repentance, penance is from outside of sacred scripture as well as the earliest traditions of the true Church of God. While the Church of Rome tends to claim that its beliefs come from sacred scripture or the traditions of the original apostles, the idea of auricular confession and penance did not come from either source--they are late heresies, essentially adopted from non-Christian sources. ( Thiel B. History of Auricular Confession and the 'Sacrament of Confession'http://www.cogwriter.com/auricular-confession.htm accessed 09/04/13)

The COG considers repentance and confession to God necessary for Christians. Although 'The Catholic Encyclopedia' cited Ignatius and others as early proof of confession and penance, Ignatius' own position is essentially the same one that is held by the Church of God. Specifically real COG, like Ignatius, believes that it has the power to forgive those who strayed from the truth to come back to church services. The handling of confession, forgiveness of sins, and repentance/penance are differences between the COG and the Roman Catholics (an article of possible interest may be History of Auricular Confession and the 'Sacrament of Confession').

Scripture and Tradition

Both groups have a different view of the applicability of tradition.

Roman Catholic Church:

Officially according to Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church bases its teachings on what has been called "Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition" (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum #9, Vatican Council II. As quoted in Birch D.A. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing Co, 1996; p.5).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

80 Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Image Books by Doubleday, NY 2003, p. 31).

Part of the reason for this is based on the findings of the Council of Trent that was held in the mid 16th Century. The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

The Council, as is evident, held that there are Divine traditions not contained in Holy Scripture, revelations made to the Apostles either orally by Jesus Christ or by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and transmitted by the Apostles to the Church. Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition, side by side with the written revelation there is the oral revelation. This granted, it is impossible to be satisfied with the Bible alone for the solution of all dogmatic questions (Bainvel J. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. Tradition and Living Magisterium. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil. Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Officially, only traditions that came from the apostles are supposed to be believed:

It is true that Catholics do not think that revelation ended with what is in the New Testament. They believe, however, that it ended up the death of the last apostle...study the first chapter of any elemental theological work by a Catholic. Every discussion of revelation notes that revelation ended when the last apostle died. (Keating Karl. Catholicism and fundamentalism: the attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians." Ignatius Press, 1988, p. 151)

81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

“And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Image Books by Doubleday, NY 2003, p. 31).

83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus’ teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Image Books by Doubleday, NY 2003, p. 31).

Yet, many of the changes and "traditions" that this paper documents happened well AFTER the time of the original apostles, hence many should not be accepted as proper or biblical traditions.

In addition to traditions claimed to have come from the apostles, private revelations outside the Bible have also been accepted, but are not required to be believed:

Private revelations (i.e. apparations and locutions with or without prophecies) are those which have been recorded since the days of Christ. Revelations which were recorded up to the days of Christ are known as public, biblical, or scriptural revelations...

Many Catholic devotions are based solely on private revelations: the Rosary, the Sacred Heart, and the Scapular are cases in point. More recently, devotion to Our Lady of Fatima was accepted and encouraged by the Church. (Dupont Yves. Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1973, p.9).

67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation...Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Image Books by Doubleday, NY 2003, p. 28).

The Church allows freedom in accepting or rejecting particular or private prophecies according to the evidence for or against them. (Devine, Arthur. Transcribed by Marie Jutras. Prophecy. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York )

In other words, even the rosary, one of the foundations of Catholic living, is admitted to have entered the Catholic world through "private revelation"--a tradition outside the Bible (the rosary "revelation" was supposedly given to "St. Dominic" the inquisitor in the early 13th century)--and such "private prophecies" do not need to be believed, even by Catholics. For details and a lot of other Catholic prophecies about the apparitions and rosary, check out the book Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions.

Church of God:

Don't believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD! I always say...check up! Listen without prejudice, with open mind, then check up--go to your BIBLE, and BELIEVE what you read there. (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth. September 1963.)

[Correct] traditions...are right and decent standards derived from biblical principles (McNair R. Modest Attire: Our Christian Responsibility. LCN. January-February 2007, p. 12).

THE HOLY BIBLE

The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God. As commonly divided, it is a collection of 66 books, with 39 from the Hebrew scriptures (The Old Testament Canon) and 27 from the Greek Scriptures (The New Testament Canon). Scripture is inspired in thought and word and contains knowledge of what is needed for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 4:4; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Scripture is truth (John 17:17) and is infallible and inerrant in its original manuscripts (John 10:35). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13).

While the COG considers that tradition can have a certain value, it specifically does not believe that tradition can be used to accept teachings contrary to scripture. This is a major difference between the COG and the Roman Catholics (an article of possible interest may be Tradition and the Bible).

The Ten Commandments

Both groups claim to keep the ten commandments. And while both groups accepted the same numbering initially, one changed.

Roman Catholic Church:

In the late second century, Irenaeus wrote that the ten commandments (which he calls the decalogue) are permanent:

Preparing man for this life, the Lord Himself did speak in His own person to all alike the words of the Decalogue; and therefore, in like manner, do they remain permanently with us, receiving by means of His advent in the flesh, extension and increase, but not abrogation (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Chapter 16, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

In the early third century, Clement of Alexandria listed most of the ten commandments (note, he left out two commandments-- 3. cursing and 9. false witness):

The first commandment of the Decalogue shows that there is one only Sovereign God...

The second word intimated that men ought not to take and confer the august power of God (which is the name, for this alone were many even yet capable of learning), and transfer His title to things created and vain, which human artificers have made...

And the fourth word is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest...

Now the fifth in order is the command on the honour of father and mother...

Then follows the command about murder...

This is followed by the command respecting adultery...

And after this is the command respecting theft...

And the tenth is the command respecting all lusts (Clement of Alexandria. Stromata, Book VI, Chapter XVI).

It should be noted that Clement did not mention coveting your neighbor's wife within the tenth or did he give any indication that that could be a separate commandment from other lusts. Hence Clement endorsed the same order of the ten commandments that the COG still endorses.

In the fourth century, Aphraates wrote:

Clearly the congregation of the house of Israel, to which the ten commandments were given. They lost the first commandment—that in which He warned them saying:—I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt. And when they had lost this first commandment, also the nine which are after it they could not keep, because on the first depend the nine (Aphrahat. Demonstration 1 (Of Faith), Numbere 11).

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Called also simply THE COMMANDMENTS, COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, or THE DECALOGUE (Gr. deka, ten, and logos, a word), the Ten Words of Sayings, the latter name generally applied by the Greek Fathers.

The Ten Commandments are precepts bearing on the fundamental obligations of religion and morality and embodying the revealed expression of the Creator's will in relation to man's whole duty to God and to his fellow-creatures. They are found twice recorded in the Pentateuch, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5...

The Church, on the other hand, after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the Third Commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord's Day. The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. xix) condemns those who deny that the Ten Commandments are binding on Christians...

The system of numeration found in Catholic Bibles, based on the Hebrew text, was made by St. Augustine (fifth century) in his book of "Questions of Exodus" ("Quæstionum in Heptateuchum libri VII", Bk. II, Question lxxi), and was adopted by the Council of Trent...According to this manner of reckoning, the injunction forbidding the use of the Lord's Name in vain comes second in order; and the decimal number is safeguarded by making a division of the final precept on concupiscence--the Ninth pointing to sins of the flesh and the Tenth to desires for unlawful possession of goods.

Another division has been adopted by the English and Helvetian Protestant churches on the authority of Philo Judæus, Josephus, Origen, and others, whereby two Commandments are made to cover the matter of worship, and thus the numbering of the rest is advanced one higher; and the Tenth embraces both the Ninth and Tenth of the Catholic division. (Stapleton, J.H. Transcribed by Marcia L. Bellafiore. The Ten Commandments. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus the Roman Catholic Church admits that the current numbering was done in the fifth century, that it changed the day for the Sabbath commandment, and that the ten commandments are binding.

Which should be bound, the original commandments or the renumbered ones?

Church of God:

In the early second century, Polycarp wrote:

But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

In the 21st century, the Church of God teaches:

Jesus kept and taught the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 4:13; 10:4). In the, New Testament through various teachings (e.g. Matthew 5:17-48, 12:12), Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that He “would exalt the law and make it honorable” (Isaiah 42:21). In New Testament times and throughout history, true Christians have stiven to obey the law of God, including keeping the Ten Commandments. And this is prophesied to continue into the future, as the Apostle John was inspired to write,“the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12)...

The Ten Commandments were observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians–and in the order that the Church of God claims they are in. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Commandment 1 "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the great commandment" (Matthew 22:37). "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment" (Mark 12:30). "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8).

Commandment 2 "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8). "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam...to eat things sacrificed to idols" (Revelation 2:14). "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow...My servants to...eat things sacrificed to idols" (Revelation 2:20).

Commandment 3 "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men" (Matthew 12:31). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,...blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).

Commandment 4 "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:11-12). "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath" (Matthew 24:20); there would be no reason to pray this if the Sabbath was not going to be in existence. "And He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath'" (Mark 2:27); this verse tells all who will see which day is the Lord's Day. "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue" (Mark 6:2). "And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read" (Luke 4:16). "Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths" (Luke 4:31). "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath...Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?" (Luke 6:5,9). "But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath...The Lord then answered him and said, 'Hypocrite...So ought not this woman...be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?'" (Luke (13:14-16). "'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?'...And they could not answer Him regarding these things" (Luke 14:3,6). "are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?" (John 7:23).

Commandment 5 "For God commanded saying, 'Honor your father and your mother' and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death'" (Matthew 15:4). "Honor your father and your mother" (Matthew 19:19). "Honor your father and your mother" (Mark 7:10). "Honor your father and your mother" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:...Honor your father and your mother" (Luke 18:20).

Commandment 6 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder', and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "You shall not murder" (Matthew 19:18). "...murders...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21,23). "Do not murder" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:...Do not murder" (Luke 18:20).

Commandment 7 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28). "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...adulteries, fornications...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery, and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). "You shall not commit adultery" (Matthew 19:18). "...adulteries, fornications...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21,23). "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:11-12). "Do not commit adultery" (Mark 10:19). "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18). "You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery" (Luke 18:20). "'Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery'...And Jesus said to her...'sin no more'" (John 8:4,11). "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation" (Revelation 2:22).

Commandment 8 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...thefts...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "You shall not steal" (Matthew 19:18). "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer', but you have made it a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:13). "...thefts...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:22-23). "Do not steal" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:... Do not steal" (Luke 18:20).

Commandment 9 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord. But I say to you, do not swear at all" (Matthew 5:33-34). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...false witness...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "You shall not bear false witness" (Matthew 19:18). "Do not bear false witness" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:...Do not bear false witness" (Luke 18:20). "And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars" (Revelation 2:2).

Commandment 10 "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on" (Matthew 6:25). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "...covetousness...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:22-23). (Thiel B. The Ten Commandments and the Early Church. http://www.cogwriter.com/2tencom.htm viewed 09/04/13)

It does not seem logical that a statement in the middle of the tenth commandment could be made as a commandment separate from the rest of that statement.

Notice that even into the 21st century, the Church of God has retained the order of the ten commandments that was even recognized by Catholic-accepted leaders such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen (both of whom were praised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007). Perhaps it should be mentioned here that Jesus condemned the Pharisees of His day for lawlessness and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:28), essentially because they changed how the ten commandments should be kept because of their traditions (Matthew 15:3-6).

We in the real COG keep the ten commandments as originally written. Should you?

What Happens After Death for Those Who are Neither Saints Nor Incorrigibly Wicked?

Both groups believe that God has some type of plan for those that are not incorrigibly wicked.

Roman Catholic Church:

LIMBUS PATRUM
Though it can hardly be claimed, on the evidence of extant literature, that a definite and consistent belief in the limbus patrum of Christian tradition was universal among the Jews, it cannot on the other hand be denied that, more especially in the extra-canonical writings of the second or first centuries B.C., some such belief finds repeated expression; and New Testament references to the subject remove all doubt as to the current Jewish belief in the time of Christ Whatever name may be used in apocryphal Jewish literature to designate the abode of the departed just, the implication generally is

In the New Testament, Christ refers by various names and figures to the place or state which Catholic tradition has agreed to call the limbus patrum...

The New Testament contains no definite statement of a positive kind regarding the lot of those who die in original sin without being burdened with grievous personal guilt...On the other hand, it is clear from Scripture and Catholic tradition that the means of regeneration provided for this life do not remain available after death, so that those dying unregenerate are eternally excluded from the supernatural happiness of the beatific vision (John 9:4, Luke 12:40, 16:19 sqq., 2 Corinthians 5:10...) (Toner, Patrick J. Transcribed by Simon Parent. Limbo. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It should be noted that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, has re-looked into the doctrine of Limbo--and he questions it. The Vatican put out a paper "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized" in April 2007 that essentially explains that God probably has a better plan than Limbo (some pontiffs in the past--Gregory I, Innocent I, Gelasius I--have suggested worse plans for infants, see De Rosa, p. 207). For more details, please see What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die?

The Catholic Encyclopedia taught the following on purgatory:

Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

The Catholic doctrine of purgatory supposes the fact that some die with smaller faults for which there was no true repentance, and also the fact that the temporal penalty due to sin is it times not wholly paid in this life...Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainty of salvation to the last day...There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come"...

In Origen the doctrine of purgatory is very clear. If a man depart this life with lighter faults, he is condemned to fire which burns away the lighter materials, and prepares the soul for the kingdom of God, where nothing defiled may enter. "For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3); but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones? Neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works." (P. G., XIII, col. 445, 448). (Hanna, Edward J. Transcribed by William G. Bilton, Ph.D. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Roman Catholics have accepted some teachings from Origen, but not all (nor should they have). However, it may be of interest to read what noted historian K.S. Latourette observed about Origen as it is closer to the Roman Catholic position on purgatory, but closer COG position on the what will happen to those not converted in this age:

Origen taught that ultimately all the spirits who have fallen away from God will be restored to full harmony with Him. This can come about only with their cooperation, for they have freedom to accept or reject the redemption wrought in Christ. Before full restoration they will suffer punishment, but that punishment is intended to be educative, to purge them from the imperfections brought by their sin. After the end of the present age and its world another age will come, so Origen believed, in which have been born again will continue to grow and the unrepentant will be given further opportunity for repentance (Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1, Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, p.151).

Here is are some quote directly by Origen:

...the good Father has not entirely deserted those who have fallen away from Him (Origen. Commentary on the Gospel of John (Book I). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 9. Edited by Allan Menzies, D.D. American Edition, 1896 and 1897. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

It is to be borne in mind, however, that certain beings who fell away from that one beginning of which we have spoken, have sunk to such a depth of unworthiness and wickedness as to be deemed altogether undeserving of that training and instruction by which the human race, while in the flesh, are trained and instructed with the assistance of the heavenly powers; and continue, on the contrary, in a state of enmity and opposition to those who are receiving this instruction and teaching. And hence it is that the whole of this mortal life is full of struggles and trials, caused by the opposition and enmity of those who fell from a better condition without at all looking back, and who are called the devil and his angels, and the other orders of evil, which the apostle classed among the opposing powers. But whether any of these orders who act under the government of the devil, and obey his wicked commands, will in a future world be converted to righteousness because of their possessing the faculty of freedom of will, or whether persistent and inveterate wickedness may be changed by the power of habit into nature, is a result which you yourself, reader, may approve of, if neither in these present worlds which are seen and temporal, nor in those which are unseen and are eternal, that portion is to differ wholly from the final unity and fitness of things (Origen. De Principiis, Book I, Chapter 6, verse 3).

...and thus, through the numerous and uncounted orders of progressive beings who are being reconciled to God from a state of enmity, the last enemy is finally reached, who is called death, so that he also may be destroyed, and no longer be an enemy. When, therefore, all rational souls shall have been restored to a condition of this kind, then the nature of this body of ours will undergo a change into the glory of a spiritual body. For as we see it not to be the case with rational natures, that some of them have lived in a condition of degradation owing to their sins, while others have been called to a state of happiness on account of their merits; but as we see those same souls who had formerly been sinful, assisted, after their conversion and reconciliation to God, to a state of happiness (Origen. De Principiis, Book III, Chapter 6, verse 6).

While we in the COG would not word it quite that way, these quotes do show that the idea that God has a plan that will give the unrepentant an opportunity after this present age is not a new concept.

The following is from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Apocatastasis (Gr., apokatastasis; Lat. restitutio in pristinum statum, restoration to the original condition).

A name given in the history of theology to the doctrine which teaches that a time will come when all free creatures will share in the grace of salvation; in a special way, the devils and lost souls.

This doctrine was explicitly taught by St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in more than one passage. It first occurs in his "De animâ et resurrectione" (P.G., XLVI, cols. 100, 101)...A time, then, will come, when all evil shall cease to be since it has no existence of its own apart from the free will, in which it inheres; when every free will shall be turned to God, shall be in God, and evil shall have no more wherein to exist. Thus, St. Gregory of Nyssa continues, shall the word of St. Paul be fulfilled: Deus erit omnia in omnibus (1 Corinthians 15:28), which means that evil shall, ultimately, have an end, since, if God be all in all, there is no longer any place for evil (cols. 104, 105; cf. col. 152). St. Gregory recurs to the same thought of the final annihilation of evil, in his "Oratio catechetica", ch. xxvi; the same comparison of fire which purges gold of its impurities is to be found there; so also shall the power of God purge nature of that which is preternatural, namely, of evil...

The doctrine of the apokatastasis is not, indeed, peculiar to St. Gregory of Nyssa, but is taken from Origen, who seems at times reluctant to decide concerning the question of the eternity of punishment...Origen teaches the apokatastasis, the final restoration of all intelligent creatures to friendship with God...It must, however, always be accepted as a principle that God does not chasten except to amend, and that the sole end of His greatest anger is the amelioration of the guilty...All souls, all impenitent beings that have gone astray, shall, therefore, be restored sooner or later to God's friendship. The evolution will be long, incalculably long in some cases, but a time will come when God shall be all in all. Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed, the body shall be made spiritual, the world of matter shall be transformed, and there shall be, in the universe, only peace and unity...All souls, all impenitent beings that have gone astray, shall, therefore, be restored sooner or later to God's friendship. The evolution will be long, incalculably long in some cases, but a time will come when God shall be all in all. Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed, the body shall be made spiritual, the world of matter shall be transformed, and there shall be, in the universe, only peace and unity...It was through Origen that the Platonist doctrine of the apokatastasis passed to St. Gregory of Nyssa, and simultaneously to St. Jerome, at least during the time that St. Jerome was an Origenist...

From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned...It was destined, nevertheless, to be revived in the works of ecclesiastical writers...The doctrine of apokatastasis viewed as a belief in a universal salvation is found among the Anabaptists...(Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Catholic scholar F.A. Sullivan observed:

Controversy arose during the third century about some of Origen's opinions...a synod of Constantinople in 543 condemned nine propositions attributed to him, notably concerning...the final restoration of all...As a result, most of his works in the original Greek were destroyed...While the Church later rejected some of his opinions, there can be no doubt about Origen's intentions to remain faithful to the apostolic tradition (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church. Newman Press. New York, 2001, p. 187).

Notice what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

Everyone is called to enter the kingdom...

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Image Books by Doubleday, NY 2003, p. 244).

Notice the following:

According to a document produced in 2000 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), salvation comes through grace. But “if they fail to respond in thought, word and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be the more severely judged.”

What about non-Christians? From a document issued by Pope Paul VI in 1964:

“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

That covers the man on the island. But Gandhi did know about Christ, didn’t he? Maybe not, Ogilvie said. If he was driven away from the church by nasty Christians, he may never truly have understood Jesus.

The official Catholic catechism offers an even larger possible exception: God can do what God wants (The answer of where someone spends eternity depends on the denomination you ask. Dallas Morning News - Jan 20, 2007).

Church of God:

The Bible discusses at least three judgments. In this life, Christians are judged (1 Peter 4:17). A second judgment is the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) which comes after the millennial reign of Jesus and His saints (Revelation 20:4-6), and then the judgment (perhaps the word sentence may also describe it) of Death and Hades (Revelation 20:13-14)...

This “good news” includes the truth that God will ultimately offer salvation to all (Luke 3:6; John 3:16-17; 12:32,47; Isaiah 6:9-11) (What is the Gospel?, The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church, and Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis)...

The Bible shows that salvation is now freely offered to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 10:12-13; cf. Joel 2:32) and that God intends to save people “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9). Christian love should be shown to people of all ethnicities (Romans 13:10; Luke 10:30-37). “Our God is the God of salvation” (Psalm 68:20) “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6)...

The Last Great Day helps picture that all who ever lived will have an opportunity for salvation–an opportunity most will accept (John 7:37-39; Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Hebrews 9:27-28). The New Testament name comes from the Apostle John who wrote, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”,,,

By observing the days that the Bible enjoins, Christians can come to understand more deeply God’s plan of salvation, and some of the steps taken toward salvation.  The biblical festivals show that Christ was truly sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7) and Christians are to live without the leaven of hypocrisy, malice, and wickness (Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6-13). The biblical festivals also help show that while some are predestined to be called in this Church Age (Ephesians 1:4-12; Acts 2:1-47), there is an age to come (Acts 3:21; Matthew 12:32), and the destiny of all others is to be presented an opportunity for salvation on the Last Great Day (John 7:37-38; 12:47-48; Romans 10:11-21). (John 7:37-38). (Statement of Beliefs, Continuing Church of God, viewed 09/04/13)

Protestants tend to put people in only two categories, the saved and the condemned. Yet, both the Roman Catholics and the COG believe that there is something different for those that are not incorrigibly wicked. We in the COG believe that the Bible teaches the idea that God has a plan that will give the non-elect an opportunity for salvation after this present age. It should be noted that the Catholic Saint Irenaeus taught that Adam and others still had a chance for eternal life--more information can be found in the article Hope of Salvation: How the Church of God Differs from Protestantism.

Now the COG does not teach limbo or purgatory per se (see below), yet both the Roman Catholics and the COG believe that God does have a plan for those that are not incorrigibly wicked, other than eternal torment.

And both groups, when they refer to the Bible, tend to refer to the same basic passages for support (though we in real COG consider that the world to come is AFTER the second resurrection and the Roman Catholics seem to feel that it is a world that exists now and comes immediately after death--though they believe it is a future world as well--but basically the COG teaches that at a time in the future, all who are alive will be offered salvation and that many will accept it--the Catholics do not seem to have a similar plan for those that are dead prior to that other than purgatory).

It is once again astounding to note that the Roman Catholics claim to have held on to a version of the COG doctrine (which they sometimes call apokatastasis) until the late fourth century! Another article of possible interest may be Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

Purgatory Denied by the Waldenses and Cathari

Both groups agree that the Waldenses and others denied purgatory.

Roman Catholic Church:

In the thirteenth century, the famed Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote the following:

Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below... Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Appendix II, Article 1. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius eneralis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

Notice also:

The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree of Union drawn up by the Council of Florence (Mansi, t. XXXI, col. 1031), and in the decree of the Council of Trent...In the Middle Ages, the doctrine of purgatory was rejected by the Albigenses, Waldenses, and Hussites. St. Bernard (Serm. lxvi in Cantic., P. L. CLXXXIII, col. 1098) states that the so-called "Apostolici" denied purgatory and the utility of prayers for the departed (Hanna Edward J. Transcribed by William G. Bilton, Ph.D. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The reality of purgatory was denied by the Cathari, the Waldenses (Ott L. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 4th ed . TAN Books, Rockford (IL), Imprimatur 1954, printed 1974, p. 482).

Church of God:

Thyatira Era Begins The pope in 1096 described the Valley Louise in Dauphiny, France, as infested with "heresy." It was a result of Paulician and Bogomil evangelization of the Alpine regions. About 1104, a man from this valley, called Peter of Bruys, began at Embrun to preach REPENTANCE throughout Languedoc and Provence...One of the definitions of the Greek word Thyatira is "sweet savor of contrition," in other words, "real repentance." Peter of Bruys taught that infant baptism was useless. He only baptized persons old enough to know and mean what they were doing -- that is, only AFTER REAL REPENTANCE. He further rejected the Catholic MYSTERY teaching that the priest in the Mass produced the literal flesh of Christ. He opposed reverence for crosses, emphasis on huge church edifices, the fable of purgatory, prayers for the dead with their inevitable heavy bribes paid to the greedy religious leaders who falsely claimed to represent God. Converted followers gathered around Peter of Bruys. God's Church was beginning again to do a Work. Freed from the errors of Cathars and Catholics, a spiritual gospel was once again being widely preached (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

Since purgatory is not a biblical reality, it would make sense that those with true Church of God would oppose such concepts. Actually, the Waldensians considered purgatory to be a doctrine of Antichrist, and the following appears to be from the 12th century:..

Christ never had an enemy like this; so able to pervert the way of truth into falsehood, insomuch that the true church, with her children, is trodden under foot. The worship that belongs alone to God he transfers to Antichrist himself—to the creature, male and female, deceased—to images, carcasses, and relics. The sacrament of the eucharist is converted into an object of adoration, and the worshipping of God alone is prohibited. He robs the Saviour of his merits, and the sufficiency of his grace in justification, regeneration, remission of sins, sanctification, establishment in the faith, and spiritual nourishment; ascribing all these things to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own *works, to the intercession of saints, and to the fire of purgatory. He seduces the people from Christ, drawing off their minds from seeking those blessings in him, by a lively faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and teaching his followers to expect them by the *will and pleasure and works of Antichrist. (A Treatise concerning Antichrist, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacraments" as shown in Jones, William. The history of the Christian church from the birth of Christ to the xviii. century, Volumes 1-2, 3rd edition. R.W. Pomeroy, 1832. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Feb 6, 2009, pp. 337-340)... 

Jesus taught that it was very hard “for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).

Yet, the Roman Church indicates that giving money on behalf of the dead helps them.  Thus if the Roman position is true, it would seem to contradict Jesus’ teaching, as it would seem to be easier for a rich man/woman to get into heaven than a poor one who could not have as much almsgiving on his/her behalf.

The fact is that neither the Greeks (the Orthodox) nor the true Church of God ever adopted purgatory, nor abandoned the teaching of apocatastasis. Purgatory as the Romans teach it, clearly was not an original part of "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints " (Jude 3). 

The original true Church of God has never taught the doctrine of purgatory, but has instead taught the apocatastasis’ teaching that salvation would be offered to all. 

We in the Continuing Church of God believe:

20 Our God is the God of salvation (Psalms 68:20).

In the 21st century, the Continuing Church of God continues to teach against purgatory and does promote the apocatastasis’ teaching that salvation would be offered to all who ever lived (for more information on this important topic, please see the article titled Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). (Thiel B. Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? http://www.cogwriter.com/purgatory.htm viewed 09/07/13)

It should be noted that the COG considers that it practices apostolic Christianity and that some of the Albigenses, Cathari, Waldenses, Bogomils, and Vaudois were part of the COG and thus historically, the COG has never accepted the Roman Catholic Church doctrine of purgatory--please see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?. For more on history, please also see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3.

Do Saints Have Souls that Go To Heaven Upon Death?

Early leaders in both groups taught against this.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Roman Catholic Saint Justin c. 135 taught,

For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

Hegesippus, who composed probably the first known list (outside the Bible) of early Roman church leaders, c. 170 wrote:

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life (Hegesippus. Concerning the relatives of our saviour.)

Tertullian c. 200 wrote:

The resurrection is first, and afterwards the kingdom. We say, therefore, that the flesh rises again, but that when changed it obtains the kingdom...Rightly then does the apostle declare, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;" for this (honour) does he ascribe to the changed condition which ensues on the resurrection (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 10. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Yet, The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

There is a heaven, i.e., God will bestow happiness and the richest gifts on all those who depart this life free from original sin and personal mortal sin, and who are, consequently, in the state of justice and friendship with God (Hontheim, Joseph. Heaven. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Immortality...The doctrine received its complete philosophical elaboration from St. Thomas. Accepting the Aristotelean theory that the soul is the form of the body, Aquinas still insists that, possessing spiritual faculties of intellect and will, it belongs to an altogether higher plane of existence than other animal forms...St. Thomas holds that we can prove the fact of the soul's conscious life when separate from the body (Michael Maher. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Immortality. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thomas Aquinas wrote:

It would seem that no souls are conveyed to heaven...immediately after death...On the contrary, It is written: "If our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have . . . a house not made with hands, but reserved in heaven" (Aquinas Thomas. Summa Theologica. Question 69. Matters concerning the resurrection, and first of the place where souls are after death).

It should be pointed out that "St. Thomas" (Aquinas) died in 1274 A.D. Hence, the Roman Catholic Church admits that the doctrine of immortality as now understood by the Roman Catholics was a relatively late development.

Church of God:

Polycarp of Smyrna taught that the body and soul were to be resurrected, hence he taught against the immortality of the soul doctrine and going to heaven upon death:

I bless you for because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14:2. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.239).

Around 170 A.D. Theophilus of Antioch wrote:

For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God...so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God...For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXVII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice also:

The Immortal Soul Idea Originated with Satan and the Pagans

So where did the idea of the immortal soul come from?

According to the Bible it came from Satan and was part of the first lie to humans! Notice this account:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' "
Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die..." (Genesis 3:1-4).

Here is some of what Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about it:

The Creator's book reveals, contrary to fallible humanist teaching, that man was made from the dust of the ground, and this dust thus becomes soul, mortal--like all vertebrates. Man has continued to accept the first lie in human history--Satan's lie to mother Eve that man is immortal and cannot die...

The world of traditional Christianity has been deceived into supposed Christian teaching of the immortality of the soul, of those who "profess Jesus" going immediately upon death into a heaven of eternal idleness, freedom from responsibility and bliss in ease and laziness; in those who fail to "accept Jesus" going at death to a definite place of eternal continuous burning fire...in indescribable pain and agony forever and ever without hope.

The teaching has been that man is an immortal soul and already has eternal life. It denies (Rom. 6:23) that the penalty for sin is death and that man can have eternal life only as the gift of God...

They have taught Satan's first lie that man is an immortal soul (Armstrong HW. Mystery of the Ages, 1983).

It was Greek philosophers, such as the the pagan Plato, who taught that humans are “immortal souls” living in a fleshly body which is merely a temporary cloak that has been put around us.

Sadly, non-COG groups have tended to accept various doctrines that pagan Greeks held in preference to those of the Bible. And the truth is still known in the 21st century. Notice the following (bolding mine):

Plato, most influentially, separated the soul, or psyche, from the material body and argued that this reasoning part of our being was immortal. His idea was so powerful and attractive that it has kept philosophers intimately engaged with it to this day. Then, too, because so many influential Christian theologians were part of this philosophical tradition, Platonic ideas have left a lasting imprint on Christian beliefs. The body may die, many Christians hold, but the soul lives on, presumably extending into eternity those qualities that we associate with our conscious minds and our sense of selfhood...

Malcolm Jeeves, an honorary professor of psychology at the University of St. Andrews, is one of many believing scientists..."The immortality of the soul is so often talked about that it is easy to miss that the Jewish view did not support it," Jeeves says. "Furthermore, the original Christian view was not the immortality of the soul but the resurrection of the body." But Platonism did creep in, Jeeves acknowledges, winning over such influential Christian theologians as Augustine and John Calvin. (Tolson J. Is There Room for the Soul? New challenges to our most cherished beliefs about self and the human spirit. US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, October 23, 2006).

So there you have it. Some of the leading non-Church of God scholars got what people now accept from paganism. And some non-Church of God scholars do understand that the original Christians did not accept the immortality of the soul, but taught the resurrection of the body.

It may be of interest to note that the false idea that humans could not die as they possessed immortality was, according to Justin, believed by false Christians who descended from Simon Magus:

"To Simon the holy God." And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him. And a man, Meander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetaea, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art. He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his...All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them...But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you (Justin. First Apology, Chapter XXVI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight)...

The Bible Shows that While Humans Are Mortal, There is a Spirit In Man

But does not the Bible indicated that there is something spiritual about humans?

Certainly, but this is not well understood outside of Church of God circles.

Polycarp of Smyrna taught: "Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead" (Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson; American Edition, 1885; Reprint Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, pp. 33-36). Since God is coming just to judge humans, it is clear that this is those with the human spirit that Polycarp is referring to.

Herbert W. Armstrong taught, "Next the human spirit IN man. No other Church knows about that. That has been revealed to the Church. That is knowledge that has been restored to the Church of God. And this Church has that knowledge" (Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era sermon on December 17, 1983).

Herbert Armstrong also wrote, "This 'human' spirit imparts the power of intellect to the human physical brain" (Mystery of the Ages p. 105).

The Bible teaches that "there is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding" (Job 32:8) which God did not give to the animals (e.g. Job 39:17). Also notice:

"For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him" (I Corinthians 2:11).

This spirit is not the same as the spirit of God which humans need to understand the things of God, but this spirit is needed to understand the things of humankind (Job 32:8; I Corinthians 2:11).

But this spirit is simply not an immortal soul...

What is the State of the Dead?

The dead are currently in their graves awaiting one of three resurrections (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?).

But some still have questions.

The Apostle Peter taught something related in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost: "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.… For David did not ascend into the heavens…" (Acts 2:29, 34).

Notice that David did not go to heaven. Peter, speaking many centuries after David's death, taught that David was still in his grave where he had been placed at death, and was still awaiting the resurrection.

This differs from the common and mistaken belief that people like David went to heaven upon death or upon Jesus' death and/or resurrection.

Jesus Himself explained, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:13).

So, only Jesus has been to heaven.

Some may wonder what the dead are now doing? The dead are dead. They are simply "sleeping" in their graves, unconscious, waiting to be called to resurrection. (Thiel B.
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? http://www.cogwriter.com/immortality.htm viewed 09/04/13)

While leaders in both groups recognized that the souls of Christians do not go to heaven upon death, only the COG still holds that teaching.

Three articles of possible interest may be Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?, The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church, and What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?

Early Church Taught Baptism By Immersion

Though they differ in who they will baptize, both the Roman Catholic and COG believe that the early church practiced baptism by immersion without the use of special fonts.

Roman Catholic Church:

In the Apostolic Age, as in Jewish times (John 3:23), baptism was administered without special fonts, at the seaside or in streams or pools of water (Acts 8:38); Tertullian refers to St. Peter's baptizing in the Tiber (De bapt., iv); similarly; in later periods of evangelization, missionaries baptized in rivers as is narrated of St. Paulinus in England by Bede (Hist. Eccl., II, xiv-xvi). (Peterson JB. Transcribed by the Cloistered Dominican Nuns. Baptismal Font. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word, bapto, or baptizo, to wash or to immerse. It signifies, therefore, that washing is of the essential idea of the sacrament...The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5). In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church. The Oriental Churches have retained immersion (Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature" (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 342).

Church of God:

The religious world today is in great confusion regarding methods of baptism. Some "baptize" by sprinkling, and others by pouring water over the heads of new converts. Some don't baptize at all. What is the correct method of baptism--or are they all correct?

It is interesting to note that the word "sprinkle" occurs only a few times in the New Testament, and always in connection with the blood of Christ--but never referring to baptism. The word "pouring" is also mentioned several times in the New Testament--but not once as a form of baptism!

Notice what the New Catholic Encyclopedia says regarding baptism: "It is evident that baptism in the early church was by immersion. This is implicit in the terminology and context.... That Baptism took place by immersion is evidenced by Paul's presenting it as "being buried with Christ [Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12]" (pages 56, 58)...

The word "baptize" is not an English word per se. It is a Greek word. And the New Testament was written in the Greek language. In translating the Bible into English, the translators left this word untranslated. Literally, in the Greek, the word is baptizo.

The definition is "immerse." It means to "plunge into" or "put into." It does not mean "to sprinkle" or "to pour." The Greek word for "sprinkle" is rantizo and "to pour" is cheo. The Holy Spirit inspired only the use of the word baptizo, meaning to immerse, when referring to baptism. Therefore, sprinkling or pouring are not forms of baptism. Immersion--being placed completely down under water--is. (Should You Be Baptized? The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 10, 1977).

Baptism of Christians was by immersion and did not include infants...

Baptism is with water (cf. John 3:23). The Greek word bapto literally means “cover wholly with fluid.” The full immersion at baptism helps picture our total surrender to God (Romans 6:3-13). The New Testament shows that the Holy Spirit was given to the baptized through the laying on of the hands of Christ’s ministers, such as apostles or elders (Acts 8:17; 9:17; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Of course, while both admit that baptism was originally by immersion, the Roman Catholics admit that they changed that.

Also, the faithful of the COG will not baptize infants, but the Roman Catholics added this practice too (please see the article Baptism and the Early Church).

Melito

Both groups consider that Melito was a leader in the Church.

Roman Catholic Church:

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

St. Melito...Bishop of Sardis, prominent ecclesiastical writer in the latter half of the second century...A letter of Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor about 194 (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", V, xxiv) states that "Melito the eunuch [this is interpreted "the virgin" by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius], whose whole walk was in the Holy Spirit", was interred at Sardis, and had been one of the great authorities in the Church of Asia who held the Quartodeciman theory. His name is cited also in the "Labyrinth" of Hippolytus as one of the second-century writers who taught the duality of natures in Jesus. St. Jerome, speaking of the canon of Melito, quotes Tertullian's statement that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful. Of Melito's numerous works almost all have perished, fortunately, Eusebius has preserved the names of the majority and given a few extracts (Hist. Eccl., IV, xiii, xxvi). They are (1) "An Apology for the Christian Faith", appealing to Marcus Aurelius to examine into the accusations against the Christians and to end the persecution (written apparently about 172 or before 177). This is a different work from the Syriac apology attributed to Melito, published in Svriae and English by Cureton from a British Museum manuscript. The latter, a vigorous confutation of idolatry and polytheism addressed to Antoninus Caesar, seems from internal evidence to be of Syrian origin, though some authorities have identified it with Melito's Peri aletheias. (2) Peri tou pascha...written probably in 167-8. A fragment cited by Eusebius refers to a dispute that had broken out in Laodicea regarding Easter, but does not mention the precise matter in controversy. (3) Eklogai, six books of extracts from the Law and the Prophets concerning Christ and the Faith, the passage cited by Eusebius contains a canon of the Old Testament. (4) He kleis, for a long time considered to be preserved in the "Melitonis clavis sanctae scripturae", which is now known to be an original Latin compilation of the Middle Ages. (5) Peri ensomatou theou, on the corporeity of God, of which some Syriac fragments have been preserved...Fourteen additional works are cited by Eusebius (MacErlean Andrew A. Transcribed by Scott Lumsden, PTS. St. Melito. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

A witness for the continued belief in millenarianism in the province of Asia is St. Melito, Bishop of Sardes in the second century (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Millennium and Millenarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

Notice that Melito taught against the use of idols, taught against placing the teachings of fathers (tradition) above that of the Bible as he wrote,

Again, there are persons who say: Whatsoever our fathers have bequeathed to us, that we reverence. Therefore, of course, it is, that those whose fathers have bequeathed them poverty strive to become rich! and those whose fathers did not instruct them, desire to be instructed, and to learn that which their fathers knew not! And why, forsooth, do the children of the blind see, and the children of the lame walk? Nay, it is not well for a man to follow his predecessors, if they be those whose course was evil; but rather that we should turn from that path of theirs, lest that which befell our predecessors should bring disaster upon us also. Wherefore, inquire whether thy father's course was good: and, if so, do thou also follow in his steps; but, if thy father's course was very evil, let thine be good, and so let it be with thy children after thee. Be grieved also for thy father because his course is evil, so long as thy grief may avail to help him. But, as for thy children, speak to them thus: There is a God, the Father of all, who never came into being, neither was ever made, and by whose will all things subsist...And then shall those who have not known God, and those who have made them idols, bemoan themselves, when they shall see those idols of theirs being burnt up, together with themselves, and nothing shall be found to help them" (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. A DISCOURSE WHICH WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF ANTONINUS CAESAR, AND HE EXHORTED THE SAID CAESAR TO ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND SHOWED TO HIM THE WAY OF TRUTH. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html).

Melito of Sardis was a Quartodeciman, and those in the true Church (of God) are also Quartodecimans (Reynolds, R. LCG minister. Clearwater, Florida, 200510121).

The COG's would agree with this statement from "The Catholic Encyclopedia", "the book De Transitu Virginis, {is} falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis". Both the COG and the Roman Catholic Church tend to look favorably on Melito of Sardis. But we in the COG are iconoclasts, quartodeciman, binitarian, accept the Bible over tradition, and millennialists like Melito, but the Roman Catholics are against those positions--even though they consider Melito to be a saint.

Birth Control and Abortion

Both groups oppose abortion and teach that married couples who are able should have children.

Roman Catholic Church:

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to moral law (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2271. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 606).

It is evident that the determination of what is right or wrong in human conduct belongs to the science of ethics and the teaching of religious authority. Both of these declare the Divine law, "Thou shalt not kill". The embryonic child, as seen above, has a human soul; and therefore is a man from the time of its conception; therefore it has an equal right to its life with its mother; therefore neither the mother, nor medical practitioner, nor any human being whatever can lawfully take that life away. The State cannot give such right to the physician; for it has not itself the right to put an innocent person to death. (Coppens C. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. Abortion. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Catholic Church remains resolutely opposed to artificial birth control, but Pope Pius XII announces that the Church will sanction the use of the rhythm method as a natural form of birth control. Previously, the only option approved by Rome was abstinence. (News story 1951).

For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness, but is in conformity with the generousity appropriate to responsible parenthood...Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based upon self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2368/2370. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 629).

Church of God:

To prevent having children and producing a family would be a direct violation of God’s command, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” But to plan a family in an intelligent manner, as to the time of the first arrival, and the time-spacing of other children—that is a different matter. Nothing in the Bible forbids this. Much in the Bible, in principle, supports it!" (Armstrong HW. Missing Dimension in Sex).

Life clearly begins at conception.  Abortion is a brutal and disgusting practice.  It has been condemned throughout history. Yet, in this "enlightened age," millions and millions are murdered by it. 

While the Church of Rome has sometimes supported it, those in the genuine Church of God have not.

The Continuing Church of God is opposed to abortion. Abortion is the killing of an innocent human baby.  The Bible says that a woman has the right to not engage in fornication, not be raped, and not get married.

The Bible allows for contraception that does not induce abortion. (Thiel B. Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman's Right to Choose http://www.cogwriter.com/abortion.htm viewed 09/07/13).

While both groups teach against abortion and both allow some limited types of birth control, the COG allows more birth control choices than the Roman Catholic Church does--though neither endorse abortion-inducing devices such as IUDs or the "morning after pill" (an article of related interest may include Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman's Right to Choose).

However, it also should be noted that according to Catholic declared saint and theologian Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome Callistus (considered by many Catholics to have been Peter's 15th successor), allowed believing women "to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth" (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VII). Thus at least one in the Roman succession list condoned abortion, and thus contradicts the Roman Catholic position that it never condoned abortion from the first century onwards.

Notice what one former Roman Catholic priest wrote:

Most Catholics assume that the soul is infused at conception...For fourteen hundred years until the late nineteenth century, all Catholics, including the popes, took it for granted that the soul is not infused at conception...

From the fifth century, the church accepted without question, the primitive embryology of Aristotle. The embryo began as a non-human speck that was progressively animated.

In the fifteenth century, moralists began to ask whether it was not possible in certain circumstances to get rid of the foetus without fault...Some went further. They said it was permissible to save a mother's life even after the foetus was humanized...

Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than forty days since it was not human...His successor, the tempestuous Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible, disagreed entirely. In his Bull Effraenatum of 1588, he said all abortions for whatever reason were homicide and were penalized by excommunication reserved to the Holy See. Immediately after Sixtus died, Gregory XIV realized that, in the current state of theological opinion, Sixtus' view was too severe. In an almost unique decision, he said Sixtus' censures were to be treated as if he had never issued them (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 2000, pp. 374-375).

There is no evidence that any Church of God leader endorsed abortion, but apparently certain Roman Pontiffs did.

Papal Authority

Although not always taught by the Roman Catholics, leaders in both groups understand that what is now often accepted as papal authority was not so recognized until probably centuries after Peter died.

Roman Catholic Church:

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Although Christ established the perpetual office of supreme head, Scripture does not tell us that He fixed the law according to which the headship should descend. Granting that He left this to Peter to determine, it is plain that the Apostle need not have attached the primacy to his own see: he might have attached it to another...

As the supreme teacher of the Church, whose it is to prescribe what is to be believed by all the faithful, and to take measures for the preservation and the propagation of the faith (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. The Pope. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

From a Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian R.P. McBrien:

ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome's first bishop. Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142-ca. 155) did the Roman Church have a monoepiscopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). Those who Catholic tradition lists as Peter's immediate successors (Linus, Anacletus, Clement, et al.) did not function as the one bishop of Rome (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.25).

From Roman Catholic E. Duffy, the President of a Catholic College:

To begin with, indeed, there was no 'pope', no bishop as such, for the church in Rome was slow to develop the office of chief presbyter or bishop...Clement made no claim to write as bishop...There is no sure way to settle on a date by which the office of ruling bishop had emerged in Rome...but the process was certainly complete by the time of Anicetus in the mid-150s (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, 2nd ed. Yale University Press, London, 2001, pp. 9, 10,13).

From Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian F.A. Sullivan:

...we have good reason to conclude that by the time of Anicetus (155-66), the church of Rome was being led by a bishop whose role resembled Ignatius or Polycarp (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 143).

From a book I purchased at the Vatican's museum:

SIRICIUS, ST. (384-399)...was the first to assume the title of pope from the Greek papa meaning father (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p. 13).

Church of God:

Irenaeus wrote that Polycarp did not accept the authority of any Roman Bishop over him:

For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant...Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church...by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

From LCG's God's Church Through the Ages booklet,

"Victor of Rome sought to intimidate the churches of Asia Minor into conforming to the Roman Easter practice. Polycrates wrote Victor:

     "I, therefore, brethren, am now 65 years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the sacred Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’" (Eusebius, Church History, xxiv).

John Ogwyn also wrote:

By the terms of Justinian’s decree, however, the bishops of Rome (now called popes) held the reins of power and were thus the real riders sitting astride the imperial Beast in the West. It is important to note at this point a significant difference between the Beast described in Revelation 13 and the one described in Revelation 17. The Beast of Revelation 13 corresponds to what Daniel saw in Daniel 7. John described a creature that began in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon and continued on to his day. Out of the seventh head, the Roman Empire, would arise ten kingdoms. Daniel 7 explained that the first three of those ten horns would be "plucked out." However, the Beast of Revelation 17 is different. It is a creature ridden by the woman, unlike the earlier description. The Beast in Revelation 17 is the one "that was and is not" (v. 11)—the Roman Empire after the deadly wound is healed. This is what history has ironically and misleadingly labeled the "Holy" Roman Empire, dominated by the Church of Rome, which has continued from 554ad through various revivals to modern times" (Ogwyn J. The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon Coming Reality? LCG Booklet).

Notice that although the Roman Catholics claim the church always accepted Roman papal authority, from John to Polycarp to Polycrates to present, the COG has never accepted the authority of the Bishop of Rome (called pope since the late 4th Century) to establish doctrine. Also notice that the Roman Catholic Church admits that it is possible that authority could have gone a different way (note what I bolded in the Roman Catholic Church section above)--and we in the COG claim that this was from Peter through John and the faithful leaders who have followed John's practices. For more information, please see the article titled Apostolic Succession.

Immaculate Conception

This is an area that both groups differ on.

Roman Catholic Church:

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary 'in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.' (Immaculate Conception. Index of New Advent).

The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus     Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin. (Pope Pius IX. Ineffabilis Deus. December 8, 1854)

Church of God:

The Continuing Church of God teaches that Mary was born like everyone else and did sin (the Bible teaches that all have sinned, Romans 3:23, except Jesus, Hebrews 4;15). The Bible gives no indication that Mary's conception was somehow different than others. (Thiel B. Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From? http://www.cogwriter.com/saint-mary-dogmas.htm viewed 09/07/13)

The COG teaches that Mary was born like everyone else and did sin (the Bible teaches that all have sinned, Romans 3:23, except Jesus, Hebrews 4;15). The Bible gives no indication that Mary's conception was somehow different than others. The fact that this was not declared Catholic dogma until many centuries after Mary died should show to any willing to see that this is another change by the Catholic Church of Rome (which made other changes related to Mary as well, see Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions).

However, we in the COG do teach the Virgin Birth, and of course believe that she was the mother of Jesus.

Idols Originally Taught Against

Both groups understand that the early Christians taught against the use of all images associated with worship.

Roman Catholic Church:

Tertullian wrote:

The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry...God prohibits an idol as much to be made as to be worshipped. In so far as the making what may be worshipped is the prior act, so far is the prohibition to make (if the worship is unlawful) the prior prohibition. For this cause--the eradicating, namely, of the material of idolatry--the divine law proclaims, "Thou shall make no idol;"...All things, therefore, does human error worship, except the Founder of all Himself. The images of those things are idols; the consecration of the images is idolatry. (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapters 1,4. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Origen wrote:

Christians and Jews have regard to this command, "You shall fear the Lord your God, and serve Him alone;" and this other, "You shall have no other gods before Me: you shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them;" and again, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." It is in consideration of these and many other such commands, that they not only avoid temples, altars, and images, but are ready to suffer death when it is necessary, rather than debase by any such impiety the conception which they have of the Most High God (Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VII, Chapter 64, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04167.htm 01/23/07).

Roman Catholic scholar A. Fortescue wrote:

Long before the outbreak in the eighth century there were isolated cases of persons who feared the ever-growing cult of images and saw in it danger of a return to the old idolatry. We need hardly quote in this connection the invectives of the Apostolic Fathers against idols (Athenagoras "Legatio Pro Christ.", xv-xvii; Theophilus, "Ad Autolycum" II; Minucius Felix, "Octavius", xxvii; Arnobius, "Disp. adv. Gentes"; Tertullian, "De Idololatria", I; Cyprian, "De idolorum vanitate"), in which they denounce not only the worship but even the manufacture and possession of such images. These texts all regard idols, that is, images made to be adored (Fortescue A. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. Veneration of Images. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

Melito wrote:

We are not those who pay homage to stones, that are without sensation; but of the only God, who is before all and over all, and, moreover, we are worshippers of His Christ, who is veritably God the Word existing before all time (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. From the apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html).

How can the unseen God be sculptured? Nay, it is the likeness of thyself that thou makest and worshippest. Because the wood has been sculptured, hast thou not the insight to perceive that it is still wood, or that the stone is still stone? The gold also the workman: taketh according to its weight in the balance. And when thou hast had it made into an image, why dose thou weigh it? Therefore thou art a lover of gold, and not a lover of God...Again, there are persons who say: Whatsoever our fathers have bequeathed to us, that we reverence...And then shall those who have not known God, and those who have made them idols, bemoan themselves, when they shall see those idols of theirs being burnt up, together with themselves, and nothing shall be found to help them (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. A DISCOURSE WHICH WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF ANTONINUS CAESAR, AND HE EXHORTED THE SAID CAESAR TO ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND SHOWED TO HIM THE WAY OF TRUTH. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 11/18/06).

Bob Thiel wrote:

The Old Testament condemns idols, even if they are supposedly directly to the true God. The Old Testament condemns even the possession of icons.

The truth is that New Testament also condemns idols. Notice, according to Protestant and Catholic translations, what Jesus Himself taught:

24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24, NKJV).

24 God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, Douay-Rheims)

And the truth is that God does not want to be represented by things made by man. Furthermore, the truth is that since no one knows what Jesus (or God the Father, either) looks like--all ICONIC REPRESENTATIONS OF GOD ARE NOT SPIRIT and are not true.

The early church is warned not to associate with any "Christian" who is involved with idolatry; and pictures of Jesus were not endorsed by even early Greco-Roman leaders, despite the fact that Jesus walked the earth. The New Testament warns that idolaters are considered to be heathen and will be judged as such (please see the article Hope of Salvation).

The church writers of the second century, even the unfaithful ones, wrote against idols and idolatry. Because of Constantine and Helena, images started to become popular, but then not as they now are within the Greco-Roman faiths.

It was only in the ninth century that the Roman Church accepted idols once and for all, and even the scholars of that church admit that it was not a practice of early Christians. And even then, there were those who remained faithful and opposed such reprehensible practices.

Various writings, biblical and non-biblical, warn about images associated with the Beast and Antichrist. This seems to specifically include crosses and other idols. The Bible warns Christians repeatedly against the use of images and idols. The Continuing Church of God is repeating this warning.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that any who professed Christ had idols/icons, such as what are seen in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, or even endorsed by them in the second century. Thus, the early church was always against the use of idols and icons.

And the true Church of God still is. (Thiel B. What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? http://www.cogwriter.com/idols.htm viewed 09/04/13)

Tertullian, Origen, and Melito wrote in the latter portion of the second/early third century. While we in the COG are still opposed to idols and icons, the Roman Catholic Church eventually embraced them. An article of possible interest may be What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?

Mary Was Not Originally Adored

Both groups agree that Mary was not originally adored.

Roman Catholic Church:

Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in its ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Seeing that this doctrine is not contained, at least explicitly in the earlier forms of the Apostles' Creed, there is perhaps no ground for surprise if we do not meet with any clear traces of the cultus of the Blessed Virgin in the first Christian centuries. The earliest unmistakable examples of the "worship" -- we use the word of course in the relative sense -- of the saints is connected with the veneration paid to the martyrs who gave their lives for the Faith...though writers like Tertullian, Hevidius, and possibly Hegesippus disputed the perpetual virginity of Mary, their more orthodox contemporaries affirmed it. It was natural then that in this atmosphere we should find a continually developing veneration for the sanctity and exalted privileges of Mary...Further, it is quite likely that the mention of the Blessed Virgin in the intercessions of the diptychs of the liturgy goes back to the days before the Council of Nicaea, but we have no definite evidence upon the point, and the same must be said of any form of direct invocation, even for purposes of private devotion (Herbert Thurston. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

Antidicomarianites
An Eastern sect which...was so designated as being the "opponents of Mary"... This doctrine...was afterwards modified so as to teach that, although Our Lord was born of Mary through the Holy Ghost, afterwards Joseph and Mary lived in wedlock and had many other children. The sect denied the formula "ever-Virgin Mary" used in the Greek and Roman Liturgies. The earliest reference to this sect appears in Tertullian, and the doctrines taught by them are expressly mentioned by Origen (Homilia in Lucam, III, 940). Certain Arians, Eudocius and Eunomius, were great supporters of the teaching. (Shipman AJ. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Antidicomarianites. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

However, while Mary was prophesied, not much specifically about her or later titles was.

We in the real Church of God, similar to the Catholics of Rome and the Orthodox, do teach the Virgin Birth of Jesus and that Mary is the mother of Jesus and that Jesus is God.

However, we do not accept later innovations such as the "Mother of God" title per se, perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, or the corporal assumption. Thus, we do not believe that the female apparition known as "the Lady of Lourdes", France who reportedly stated in 1858, “I am the Immaculate Conception!” (Hebert AJ.  Prophecies, the Chastisement, and Purification.  Nihil Obstat Robert Ripp, Eugene J. Driscoll.  H. Albert, Paulina (Louisiana), 1986, p. 29) could possibly have been Mary of the Bible as this also contradicted scripture (cf. Romans 3:23). For documentation on where those "dogmas" came from and why they are innovations (and pretty much all of them at one time or the other were opposed by some Catholic saints and/or scholars), please see the article Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From? Catholics of Rome celebrate a festival on December 8th related to one of the dogmas, for details please check out Feast of the Immaculate Conception?

For even more information on the dogmas and other related teachings, please check out the book Fatima Shock! (In addition to the print version, there is a Kindle version of Fatima Shock! which you can acquire in seconds.) (Thiel B. Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions http://www.cogwriter.com/Mary-Mother-of-Jesus.htm viewed 09/04/13)

Mary was the mother of Jesus, was blessed (Luke 1:28) and called blessed (Luke 1:48), but was not prayed to, etc. by true early Christians. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/07/13).

Although I am not saying that the majority of the group referred to as Antidicomarianites were in the Church of God, this is another case where the Roman Catholic Church later adopted a practice that we in the true church never did (more on Mary can be found in the article Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions.)

Perhaps it should be pointed out that since the first resurrection has not yet occurred (Revelation 20:5) that we in the COG do not believe that it is possible for Mary (or anyone who died other than Jesus) to hear anyone's prayers. Since the Bible teaches that other than Jesus (Hebrews 4:15), "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23), those of us in the COG cannot accept that Mary was without sin. Furthermore, since the Bible shows that Eve was the mother of all humans (Genesis 3:20), we do not accept that Mary could properly have that title. However, the fact that Mary was blessed is biblical sanctioned, but so were others in the Bible.

Church Services

Roman Catholic Church:

The word Mass (missa) first established itself as the general designation for the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the West after the time of Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604), the early Church having used the expression the "breaking of bread" (fractio panis) or "liturgy" (Acts 13:2, leitourgountes); the Greek Church has employed the latter name for almost sixteen centuries. There were current in the early days of Christianity other terms...With the name "Love Feast" (agape) the idea of the sacrifice of the Mass was not necessarily connected...the Church intends the Mass to be regarded as a "true and proper sacrifice", and will not tolerate the idea that the sacrifice is identical with Holy Communion...The simple fact that numerous heretics...repudiated the Mass as "idolatry", while retaining the Sacrament of the true Body and Blood of Christ, proves that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is something essentially different from the Sacrifice of the Mass. In truth, the Eucharist performs at once two functions: that of a sacrament and that of a sacrifice...

The view most widely held today among upholders of the historico-religious theory is that the Eucharist and the Mass originated in the practices of the Persian Mithraism (Dieterich, H. T. Holtzmann, Pfleiderer, Robertson, etc.). "In the Mandaean mass" writes Cumont ("Mysterien des Mithra", Leipzig, 1903, p.118), "the celebrant consecrated bread and water, which he mixed with perfumed Haoma-juice, and ate this food while performing the functions of divine service". Tertullian in anger ascribed this mimicking of Christian rites to the "devil" and observed in astonishment (De prescript haeret, C. xl): "celebrat (Mithras) et panis oblationem." (J. Pohle. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Mass is the complex of prayers and ceremonies that make up the service of the Eucharist in the Latin rites...The commonest was Eucharistia, used both for the consecrated bread and wine and for the whole service. Clement of Rome (d. about 101) uses the verbal form still in its general sense of "giving thanks", but also in connection with the Liturgy (I Clem., Ad Cor., xxxviii, 4: kata panta eucharistein auto). The other chief witness for the earliest Roman Liturgy, Justin Martyr (d. c. 167), speaks of eucharist in both senses repeatedly...We have here two fixed and certain data: the Liturgy in Greek described by St. Justin Martyr (d. c. 165), which is that of the Church of Rome in the second century, and, at the other end of the development, the Liturgy of the first Roman Sacramentaries in Latin, in about the sixth century. The two are very different. Justin's account represents a rite of what we should now call an Eastern type, corresponding with remarkable exactness to that of the Apostolic Constitutions (see LITURGY). The Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries show us what is practically our present Roman Mass. (Apol., I, lxv, 3, 5; lxvi, 1; lxvii, 5)...Normally, Mass must be celebrated in a consecrated or blessed Church (private oratories or even rooms are allowed for special reasons: see Le Vavasseur, I, 200-4) and at a consecrated altar (or at least on a consecrated altar-stone), and may be celebrated on any day in the year except Good Friday (restrictions are made against private celebrations on Holy Saturday and in the case of private oratories for certain great feasts) at any time between dawn and midday. A priest may say only one Mass each day, except that on Christmas Day he may say three, and the first may (or rather, should) then be said immediately after midnight. In some countries (Spain and Portugal) a priest may also celebrate three times on All Souls' Day (2 November) (Adrian Fortescue. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Liturgy of the Mass. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

I would like to point out that the letter attributed to Clement does not clearly discuss "mass" in the current sense.

I would concede, however, that Justin to a degree does, yet Roman Catholics should carefully study Justin's writings as he blasts at least the holding of one Roman Catholic belief as disqualifying one from being a Christian (please see the article Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate?). However it is important to note that the Eucharist as practiced by the Roman Church, since sometime in the second century, appears to have been adopted from practices associated with the sun-god Mithra (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Notice the following admission by a Catholic priest while discussing Revelation Chapter VII:

Verse 10

The Roman persecutions officially decreed are now over...

Verses 11 and 12...

In this period the Church labors to consolidate her gains, to solidify her institutions and to develop her literature, liturgy, music and art. It is the age of the Great Fathers and Doctors, both East and West, both Latin and Greek (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny.  Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus.  Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 164).

As those Roman decrees against the Church of Rome did not end until the 4th century according to the same priest (p. 181), the priest is admitting that this is when the modern Roman liturgy was developed.

Church of God:

Services are normally once per week, and on Saturday (other services occur on biblical Holy Days). Typically services begin with 2-3 hymns (normally biblical Psalms, accompanied with a piano), followed by a 15 minute short scripture-based sermon, followed by a hymn and any announcements, followed by a scripture-based sermon (usually between 1 - 1 1/2 hours long), followed by a hymn and a closing prayer. Offerings are not collected in normal services. People sit through services, but stand during hymns. No "Eucharist" is offered, as the COG keeps the Lord's Passover as an annual, not weekly, event (Thiel B. CCOG Pastor/Bishop).

No prayers to dead saints (including Mary) are offered in COG services, and Passover is an annual event. The Church of God simply did not change its services as dramatically as those of the Roman Church have. See also What Were the Early Duties and Dress of Elders/Pastors?

Eucharist/Lord's Passover

Roman Catholic Church:

Irenaeus records this about Passover:

For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God...the bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord, and the cup His blood (Irenaeus. Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter 18, verse 4).

Notice what a fifth century historian realized:

"For we could never tolerate celebrating the Passover twice in one year. But even if all these facts did not exist, your own sagacity would prompt you to watch with diligence and with prayer, lest your pure minds should appear to share in the customs of a people so utterly depraved. It must also be borne in mind, that upon so important a point as the celebration of a feast of such sanctity, discord is wrong. One day has our Saviour set apart for a commemoration of our deliverance, namely, of His most holy Passion" (Theodoret of Cyrus. Ecclesiastical History (Book I), Chapter IX. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Mass is the complex of prayers and ceremonies that make up the service of the Eucharist in the Latin rites...A priest may say only one Mass each day, except that on Christmas Day he may say three (Adrian Fortescue. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Liturgy of the Mass. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The quintessence of these doctrinal decisions consists in this, that in the Eucharist the Body and Blood of the God-man are truly, really, and substantially present for the nourishment of our souls, by reason of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and that in this change of substances the unbloody Sacrifice of the New Testament is also contained (Eucharist).

Since Christ is present under the appearances of bread and wine in a sacramental way, the Blessed Eucharist is unquestionably a sacrament of the Church...

There are two Eucharistic elements, bread and wine, which constitute the remote matter of the Sacrament of the Altar...

The first element is wheaten bread (panis triticeus), without which the "confection of the Sacrament does not take place" (Missale Romanum: De defectibus, sect. 3)...

The second Eucharistic element required is wine of the grape (vinum de vite)...The Catholic Church is aware of no other tradition and in this respect she has ever been one with the Greeks. The ancient Hydroparastatæ, or Aquarians, who used water instead of wine, were heretics in her eyes...

In St, Thomas' time (III:82:3), the deacons were allowed to administer only the Chalice to the laity, and in case of necessity the Sacred Host also, at the bidding of the bishop or priest. After the Communion of the laity under the species of wine had been abolished, the deacon's powers were more and more restricted (Pohle J. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, SJ. The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

Polycrates wrote:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away...the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, ...and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord...And Polycarp... and Thraseas...and martyr Sagaris..the blessed Papirius...Melito... All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Apollinaris wrote:

The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors; American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

Notice also:

Passover helps picture the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who scripture shows who came to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus observed Passover annually (Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:14; Luke 2:41-42; 22:15), died on Passover (Luke 22:15), and was sacrificed for us as “indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus made changes to the Passover including adding the symbols of unleavened bread and wine (Matthew 26:17, 26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) as well as the cleansing practice of footwashing (John 13:1-17).  It is kept annually (cf. Exodus 13:10). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

While Roman Catholics can have part of the "eucharist" every day, the COG follows the original biblical concept of observing Passover once per year. It is important to note that there is no indication in the biblical text that Christians were not to drink wine, but this was another change that the Roman Catholic Church implemented (as well as Easter Sunday, plus daily eucharist) that prevents lay members from drinking wine as Christ implemented.

Hence the Roman Catholic Church has clearly changed from the original practices.

Broken Bread vs. Rounded IHS Host

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1339 Jesus choose the time of the Passover...And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them...(Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 373)

Now the above is scriptural. Here are some related scriptures:

19 And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the pasch.

26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. (Matthew 26:19,26 Douay-Rheims)

22 And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. (Mark 14:22, Douay-Rheims)

19 And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. (Luke 22:19, Douay-Rheims)

Notice, it is very clear that Jesus BROKE the bread on Passover (Pasch means Passover).

The Apostle Paul confirmed that it was the practice of the early Christians to break bread:

16 The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? (1 Corinthians 10:16, Douay-Rheims).

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.

24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Douay-Rheims)

The Apostle Paul followed Jesus' practice and broke bread. Furthermore, notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches in its article "Host":

...the first Christians...simply used the bread that served as food. It seems that the form differed but little from what it is in our day. The loaves discovered in an oven of a bakery at Pompeii weighed about a pound each. One of these, being perfectly preserved, measured about seven inches in diameter and was creased with seven ridges which facilitated the breaking of the loaf without the aid of a knife. (Leclercq, Henri. "Host." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07489d.htm>)

As far as origin of the initials IHS, The Catholic Encyclopedia offers the following explanation:

IHS

A monogram of the name of Jesus Christ. From the third century the names of our Saviour are sometimes shortened, particularly in Christian inscriptions (IH and XP, for Jesus and Christus). In the next century the "sigla" (chi-rho) occurs not only as an abbreviation but also as a symbol . From the beginning, however, in Christian inscriptions the nomina sacra, or names of Jesus Christ, were shortened by contraction, thus IC and XC or IHS and XPS for Iesous Christos. These Greek monograms continued to be used in Latin during the Middle Ages. Eventually the right meaning was lost, and erroneous interpretation of IHS led to the faulty orthography "Jhesus"... Towards the close of the Middle Ages IHS became a symbol , quite like the chi-rho in the Constantinian period. (Maere, René. "IHS." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07649a.htm>)

The familiar monogram I H S was first popularized by St. Bernardine of Siena in the early fifteenth century (Hassett, Maurice. "Monogram of Christ." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10488a.htm>).

Notice the following from another Catholic author (bolding mine):

SAINT BERNADINE OF SIENA 1380-1444...He is especially remembered for his zeal...and he popularized, with the help of St. John Capistrano, a symbol representing the Holy Name. The Gothic letters for the name of Jesus, "IHS," were set in a blazing sun to whose tongues of fire and spreading rays he attributed mystical significance. For a time the Saint was denounced as a heretic and the symbol regarded as idolatrous...(Cruz JC. The Incorruptibles. Nihil Obstat Henry C. Bezon, November 11, 1974. Imprimatur +Philip M. Hannan, Archbishop of New Orleans, November 19, 1974. TAN Books 1977, p. 127)

IHS...{an} innovation over five hundred years ago. (Cruz, p. 127)

Notice that the IHS and the use of the sun as a symbols were innovations according to a book with the Imprimaturs of a Catholic bishop and that the promoter was properly condemned as a heretic when he initially promoted them. Innovations like that were NOT part of the earliest tradition of the Christian church and although they were denounced, have been adopted by supporters of Rome.

Church of God:

Here are some related scriptures:

19 And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the pasch.

26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. (Matthew 26:19,26 Douay-Rheims)

22 And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. (Mark 14:22, Douay-Rheims)

19 And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. (Luke 22:19, Douay-Rheims)

Notice, it is very clear that Jesus BROKE the bread on Passover (Pasch means Passover).

The Apostle Paul confirmed that it was the practice of the early Christians to break bread:

16 The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? (1 Corinthians 10:16, Douay-Rheims).

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.

24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Douay-Rheims)

The Apostle Paul followed Jesus' practice and broke bread. Furthermore, notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches in its article "Host":

...the first Christians...simply used the bread that served as food. It seems that the form differed but little from what it is in our day. The loaves discovered in an oven of a bakery at Pompeii weighed about a pound each. One of these, being perfectly preserved, measured about seven inches in diameter and was creased with seven ridges which facilitated the breaking of the loaf without the aid of a knife. (Leclercq, Henri. "Host." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07489d.htm>)

Notice the article basically says that the practice of the first Christians, which is consistent with the Bible, was to use normal loaves of bread that resemble what is still in use today. And that it was broken. (The article never says where the round host actually came from, other than it was first mentioned in writing in the fourth century by Epiphanius and that earlier paintings in catacombs and bas-reliefs showed something like that. But I should state that the oldest early painting in a catacomb I am aware of has a woman, Priscilla, presiding over the ceremony, so the Church of Rome may wish to be careful about relying on that as they do not allow women to do that. Hence, the earliest picture of the eucharist host did not come from what is practiced in today's Roman Catholicism--so the question from whence the Catholics adopted it remains.)

Thus, to have a Passover/eucharistic ceremony where they bread is not broken is certainly not imitating Jesus, the Apostle Paul, nor the early Christians. It is a change that the Church of Rome must have gotten outside of the Bible.

Yet, in the eucharistic ceremonies in the Catholic Church, the bread is not broken. Instead, it is a round host that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says can/should be worshipped and adored (CCC #1378, p. 385). Yet, there is no indication that the early Christians or the apostles did anything like that.

They only taught that it was to be eaten.

Worshippers of sun-gods worshipped round symbols. Early Christians did not...

If Irenaeus’ Marcus and the Orthodox’s Marcus are the same person, it is clear that one in the list of Alexandria's Orthodox successors was condemned by Irenaeus as a heretic. And even if they are not, as will be shown later, some of the practices of consecration with mysterious invocations he was claimed to do were condemned in the second century--even though this is somewhat similar to practices adopted by the Roman and Orthodox Churches. Since Clement of Alexandria apparently was familiar with his writings and perhaps practices, it may be that it was at least partially from Marcus' influence that certain eucharistic practices were adopted...

It is of interest to note that the Roman Catholics now claim that Mary is in the eucharist, and Marcus may have been the first to associate a woman with a similar ceremony. It is also of interest to note that this particular Marcus was a religious heretic with mystic practices. Irenaeus correctly indicates, that he seems to have similarities to the one who would be the final Antichrist. And on this point Irenaeus is correct (Irenaeus seems to get confused in some of his later writings on Antichrist though).

Notice that Priest Bagatti admits that the original "Eucharist" was not like the one that is now used by his church:

At first the celebration of the Eucharist or “the breaking of bread” was not associated with the readings and ritual prayers, but with the agape, in imitation of the Supper of the Lord. (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 114)

By “Supper of the Lord,” Priest Bagatti essentially means the New Testament Passover—which is only an annual event.  (Thiel B. Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? http://www.cogwriter.com/marcus.htm viewed 09/04/13)

While both groups are familiar with what the Bible teaches, the Church of God still "breaks bread" and did not adopt innovations such as the rounded host or adding the letters IHS. For more on the development of the host and other related matters, please see the article Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist?

Easter, Lent, and Ash Wednesday

Both groups admit that Easter is a name of pagan origin, contains pagan elements, and essentially was adopted to replace the biblical passover. Both groups teach that Lent was not an original practice of the true church.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring...Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter...The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast. Easter has no fixed date, like Christmas, because the 15th of Nisan of the Semitic calendar was shifting from date to date on the Julian calendar. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method...For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip.

In the rest of the empire another consideration predominated. Every Sunday of the year was a commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, which had occurred on a Sunday. Because the Sunday after 14 Nisan was the historical day of the Resurrection, at Rome this Sunday became the Christian feast of Easter...

Men and women...In the Neumark (Germany) on Easter Day the men servants whip the maid servants with switches; on Monday the maids whip the men. They secure their release with Easter eggs. These customs are probably of pre-Christian origin (Reinsberg-Düringsfeld, Das festliche Jahr, 118)...

The Easter Rabbit The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simrock, Mythologie, 551)...

The Easter Fire The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter

(Holweck F. G. Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Catholic Saint Abbot John Cassian (also known as Cassianus, monk of Marseilles) in the fifth century admitted:

Howbeit you should know that as long as the primitive church retained its perfection unbroken, this observance of Lent did not exist (Cassian John. Conference 21, THE FIRST CONFERENCE OF ABBOT THEONAS. ON THE RELAXATION DURING THE FIFTY DAYS. Chapter 30).

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

Ash Wednesday
The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday, which is the first day of the Lenten fast.

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century (Ash Wednesday. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Thus, the Roman Catholics admit that the name Easter is the name of a pagan goddess, many of its practices are of pagan origin, and that the churches in Asia Minor (which they call the Orient) continued to observe Passover on the date that the Jews did, Nisan 14. And that the early church did not observe Lent and that it did not adopt Ash Wednesday until many centuries after Christ was resurrected.

Church of God:

The late John Ogwyn wrote:

Samuele Bacchiocchi, in his book, From Sabbath to Sunday, acknowledges: "There is a wide consensus of opinion among scholars that Rome is indeed the birthplace of Easter-Sunday. Some, in fact, rightly label it as ‘Roman-Easter’" (p. 201). Of course, what is not generally realized by the speakers of non-Latin languages is that the Romans did not use the name "Easter" for their new celebration; they continued to call it by the Latin word for Passover, paschalis (Ogwyn J. God's Church Through the Ages. LCG Booklet, 2004).

The late Carl McNair taught:

Each Spring of the year, we hear a great deal about Jesus’ resurrection in connection with the custom of Easter. Most religious leaders know that Easter is the name of an ancient pagan goddess (spelled Ishtar) and some even know that the custom of Easter observance is totally UNCHRISTIAN! Yet most excuse observing Easter as a Christian worship service. They assume it was "Christianized by Jesus’ resurrection." But does it matter? Is it acceptable in Christ’s sight to worship Him through a pagan custom? Would it matter to Christ if a Christian took symbols of fertility — which all the world recognizes as such — and held them up as symbols of Him? Is it acceptable to Christ for Christians to worship Him as the heathen worshiped their chief god?

Easter supposedly embodies a number of "converging traditions;" most scholars try to associate Easter with the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, and the King James version of Acts 12:4 even mistranslates Pesach (Greek for Passover) "Easter."

Christians of Jewish origin celebrated the Passover festival, which fell on the evening of the full moon (the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the first month of the year). Passover therefore fell on different days of the week from year to year. This was unacceptable to the Gentiles who later embraced Christianity, and who wished to continue with their Easter celebration.

To this day there is a dispute between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Western Christianity. And to this day neither has it right — because they forsook the instructions of Christ and His apostles (McNair C. Why Easter? Why NOT Passover? LCG Commentary).

While both groups know the truth about Easter being a cross between a pagan holiday and Passover, only the COG continues to keep the biblical Passover. Also the COG does not observe Lent nor Ash Wedneday as they were not original practices of the church. For more information on them, see also Is Lent a Christian Holiday?

The Holy Spirit

This is an area of major difference, although the earliest writings suggest that both groups originally held the same or similar positions.

Roman Catholic Church:

Irenaeus taught:

...the Word called the Son, and the Spirit the Wisdom of God.

...according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Son ministers and dispenses the Spirit to whomsoever the Father wills and as He wills (Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Chapters 5,7. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920).

Around the time of Irenaeus, the apologist Athenagoras of Athens wrote:

The Holy Spirit...which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun (Athenagoras. A Plea for the Christians. Chapter X. Roberts & Donaldson).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

The doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the Holy Ghost forms an integral part of her teaching on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, of which St. Augustine (De Trin., I, iii, 5), speaking with diffidence, says: "In no other subject is the danger of erring so great, or the progress so difficult, or the fruit of a careful study so appreciable". The essential points of the dogma may be resumed in the following propositions:

A. Scripture. In the New Testament the word spirit and, perhaps, even the expression spirit of God signify at times the soul or man himself, inasmuch as he is under the influence of God and aspires to things above; more frequently, especially in St. Paul, they signify God acting in man...

B. Tradition. While corroborating and explaining the testimony of Scripture, Tradition brings more clearly before us the various stages of the evolution of this doctrine (Forget J. Transcribed by W.S. French, Jr. Holy Ghost. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

And the Cathecism of the Catholic Church admits:

245 The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was announced by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381) (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 72).

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the apostles had all been dead for hundreds of years before the position was agreed upon in 381 A.D.

Church of God:

Melito, around 170 A.D., taught:

The tongue of the Lord-His Holy Spirit. In the Psalm: "My tongue is a pen." (Melito. From the Oration on Our Lord's Passion, IX. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 7/26/06).

The finger of the Lord-the Holy Spirit, by whose operation the tables of the law in Exodus are said to have been written (Melito. From the Oration on Our Lord's Passion. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 9/10/05).

Theophilus, around 180 A.D., taught:

...if I say He is Spirit, I speak of His breath...For as the pomegranate, with the rind containing it, has within it many cells and compartments which are separated by tissues, and has also many seeds dwelling in it, so the whole creation is contained by the spirit of God, and the containing spirit is along with the creation contained by the hand of God (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 1, Chapters III,V. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The Church of God teaches:

GOD IS SPIRIT, GOD IS LOVE

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, NKJV used throughout). God’s ways are higher than those of humankind (Isaiah 55:9).
“God is love” (1 John 4:8,18) (The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil). The Holy Spirit is inherent in the Father and the Son, and emanates from Them throughout the entire universe (1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:7; Jeremiah 23:24). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Notice that even though they believe the Holy Spirit is a separate person, the Roman Catholics admit that comments in scripture about "Spirit" have different meanings/applications. Historically, pneumatomachians were those who did not accept that the Holy Spirit was a separate person--this is something that those in the COG would agree with. Throughout history, our critics have called us a variety of names (including Semi-Arians) and have often defined us in ways that are inaccurate. We do believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but not the way the belief became adopted in 381 A.D.

More information on the Holy Spirit can be found in the article Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?

Who and What is God?

While the earliest leaders of both groups apparently taught the same thing here, this changed.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Saint Irenaeus taught that only the Father and Son are God:

...there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Preface, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, around 212 A.D. Roman Catholic Saint and leading theologian was essentially a ditheist:

Hippolytus, on the contrary, stood uncompromisingly for a real difference between the Son (Logos) and the Father, but so as to represent the Former as a Divine Person almost completely separate from God (Ditheism) and at the same time altogether subordinate to the Father (Subordinationism)...Hippolytus was the most important theologian and the most prolific religious writer of the Roman Church in the pre-Constantinian era (St. Hippolytus of Rome, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910).

Hippolytus (somewhat diversely in the "Contra Noetum" and in the "Philosophumena," if they are both his) taught the same division of the Son from the Father as traditional, and he records that Pope Callistus condemned him as a Ditheist (Chapman J. Transcribed by Kevin Cawley. Fathers of the Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Semi-Arianism states,

Semiarians...A name frequently given to the conservative majority in the East in the fourth century...showing that the very name of father implies a son of like substance...rejected the Divinity of the Holy Ghost...

Although Catholic writers have had many definitions of "Semi-Arians" (most of which disagree with the Church of God position), one that somewhat defines the binitarian view would possibly be this one from Epiphanius in the mid-4th Century,

Semi-Arians...hold the truly orthodox view of the Son, that he was forever with the Father...but has been begotten without beginning and not in time...But all of these blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and do not count him in the Godhead with the Father and the Son (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section VI, Verses 1,1 and 1,3. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp.471-472).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

It is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ, without faith in the Trinity...Wherefore just as, before Christ, the mystery of Christ was believed explicitly by the learned, but implicitly and under a veil, so to speak, by the simple, so too was it with the mystery of the Trinity. And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity (The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS. Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

Yet, the Roman Catholics also teach that the trinity did not clearly come from the Bible and cannot be fully understood:

In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together....The Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from Divine Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains “hidden by the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness” (Const., "De fide. cath.", iv). (Joyce G.H. The Blessed Trinity. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company).

And the Cathecism of the Catholic Church admits the Church (not the Bible) had to come up with terms of "philosophical" (pagan/Greek) origin to explain it::

251 In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to develop its own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: "substance," "person," or "hypostasis," "relation" and so on (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 74).

The leading Catholic historian of the Constantine era, Eusebius, was a Semi-Arian bishop who was succeeded by another Semi-Arian:

When in 338, Eusebius died in Caesarea he was succeeded by his disciple Acacius, who shared the semi-Arianism of his master (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, Part 1, Chapter 1.  Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p. 49).

In 359, there was even a "semi-Arian council of Seleucia (359)" attended by Greco-Roman church leaders (Ibid, p. 56). And "in 335, the semi-Arian bishops, returning from the council of Tyre" consecrated a basilica (Ibid, p. 59). In other words, even among the Greco-Roman bishops, many were "semi-Arians".

And at least one now claimed to be Pope (Liberius) was believed to have been Semi-Arian. Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

The second Formula of Sirmium (357) stated the doctrine of the Anomoeans, or extreme Arians. Against this the Semi-Arian bishops, assembled at Ancyra, the episcopal city of their leader Basilius, issued a counter formula, asserting that the Son is in all things like the Father, afterwards approved by the Third Synod of Sirmium (358). This formula, though silent on the term "homousios", consecrated by the Council of Nicaea, was signed by a few orthodox bishops, and probably by Pope Liberius, being, in fact, capable of an orthodox interpretation. The Emperor Constantius cherished at that time the hope of restoring peace between the orthodox and the Semi-Arians by convoking a general council (Benigni, Umberto. "Council of Rimini." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 Jul. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13057b.htm>).

Pneumatomachi…The majority of this sect were clearly orthodox on the Consubstantiality of the Son; they had sent a deputation from the Semi-Arian council of Lampsacus (364 A.D.) to Pope Liberius, who after some hesitation acknowledged the soundness of their faith; but with regard to the Third Person, both pope and bishops were satisfied with the phrase: "We believe in the Holy Ghost" (Arendzen, John. "Pneumatomachi." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 11 Jul. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12174a.htm>)

"In the Council of Rimini, 359 A.D...nearly all bishops present, 400 in number" decided "to sign a semi-Arian creed" (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny.  Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus.  Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 165).

Hence, the idea that the majority in the 4th century were semi-Arian has a lot of support in Greco-Roman writings. Also, the fact that 400 bishops who met in Rimini, Italy in 359 A.D. signed a "semi-Arian creed" indicates that the majority of leaders in West accepted some type of non-trinitarian position on the Godhead.

The Catholic Saint Jerome, while discussing Arian and anti-Arian writings wrote:

Fortunatianus,  an African by birth, bishop of Aquilia during the reign of Constantius, composed brief Commentaries on the gospels arranged by chapters, written in a rustic style, and is held in detestation because, when Liberius bishop of Rome was driven into exile for the faith, he was induced by the urgency of Fortunatianus to subscribe to heresy (Jerome. De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 97).

The trinitarian view that is now held was adopted because of an Imperial Council called for by Emperor Theodosius in 381 A.D. This explanation differed from that held by Irenaeus, Polycarp, Melito, Hippolytus, Pope Liberius, and others considered to be saints by the Church of Rome.

Church of God:

Polycarp wrote:

Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself, the [Son of] God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father (Polycarp. The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians in APOSTOLIC FATHERS (as translated by J.B. LIGHTFOOT) 12:6,7).

Melito wrote:

No eye can see Him, nor thought apprehend Him, nor language describe Him; and those who love Him speak of Him thus: `Father, and God of Truth" (Melito. A Discourse Which Was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar).

For the deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being at once both God and perfect man likewise...He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages (Melito. On the Nature of Christ. From Roberts and Donaldson).

From CCOG's Statement of Beliefs:

THE GODHEAD

The Father and Son comprise the Godhead (Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9) and work through the Holy Spirit. Scripture shows that God is one eternal divine Family consisting of two, God the Father and the Word, at this time (Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 2:19; 3:14-15; John 1:1,14), with faithful children to be added (Hebrews 2:10-11, 1 John 3:1-2; Ephesians 3:14-15) to become as Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), who is God (John 1:1-3,14, 20:28-29; Colossians 2:9). The Holy Spirit is not a separate being in the theological sense and is given to those after those who have properly repented and been baptized (Acts 2:38-39). The early original Christians had what has been called a “binitarian” view of the Godhead.

While early church writers (called "Fathers" by the Roman Catholics) specifically called the Father and the Son God, it was the heretic Valentinus who developed the idea of God existing as three hypostasis. Note what a bishop named Marcellus of Ancyra wrote on the nature of God around the middle of the fourth century,

Now with the heresy of the Ariomaniacs, which has corrupted the Church of God...These then teach three hypostases, just as Valentinus the heresiarch first invented in the book entitled by him 'On the Three Natures'.  For he was the first to invent three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he is discovered to have filched this from Hermes and Plato." (Source: Logan A. Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), 'On the Holy Church': Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9.  Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95 ).

Notice that even The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the Semi-Arians were the majority in Asia Minor as late as the fourth century--if the trinity was such a fundamental doctrine of the true church, why did it not become the majority position until later in the fourth century--and even then it needed Imperial enforcement in 381?

More information on these subjects can be found in the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings from Before the Beginning which documents the historical truth of the nature of God and some heretical doctrines on that subject.

Early Heretics

Both groups agree that Simon Magus, Marcion, Valentinus, and Montanus were early heretics.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912 contained these statements about Simon Magus:

By his magic arts, because of which he was called "Magus", and by his teachings in which he announced himself as the "great power of God", he had made a name for himself and had won adherents. He listened to Philip's sermons, was impressed by them, and like many of his countrymen was baptized and united with the community of believers in Christ. But, as was evident later, his conversion was not the result of the inner conviction of faith in Christ as the Redeemer, but rather from selfish motives, for he hoped to gain greater magical power and thus to increase his influence...Under the influence of Peter's rebuke Simon begged the Apostles to pray for him (Acts 8:9-29). However, according to the unanimous report of the authorities of the second century, he persisted in his false views. The ecclesiastical writers of the early Church universally represent him as the first heretic, the "Father of Heresies". Simon is not mentioned again in the writings of the New Testament...All these narratives belong naturally to the domain of legend. It is evident from them, however, that, according to the tradition of the second century, Simon Magus appeared as an opponent of Christian doctrine and of the Apostles, and as a heretic or rather as a false Messias of the Apostolic age...In morals Simon was probably Antinomian, an enemy of Old Testament law. Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Simon Magus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Irenaeus mentions two other heretics that Polycarp put down in Rome c. 155:

But Polycarp...was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles...(Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3).

For Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too, Marcion's predecessor, himself arrived in the time of Hyginus, who was the ninth bishop. Coming frequently into the Church, and making public confession, he thus remained, one time teaching in secret, and then again making public confession; but at last, having been denounced for corrupt teaching, he was excommunicated from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Valentinus introduced the heresy that God existed as three hypostases according to Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra:

Now with the heresy of the Ariomaniacs, which has corrupted the Church of God...These then teach three hypostases, just as Valentinus the heresiarch first invented in the book entitled by him 'On the Three Natures'.  For he was the first to invent three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he is discovered to have filched this from Hermes and Plato (Source: Logan A. Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), 'On the Holy Church': Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9.  Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95 ).

Perhaps it should be noted that although Catholics and Protestants now freely use the expression "three hypostases" even Jerome of the late 4th century was so unsure what was meant by it that he stated in a letter to the Roman Pope as follows:

Just now, I am sorry to say, those Arians, the Campenses, are trying to extort from me, a Roman Christian, their unheard-of formula of three hypostases. And this, too, after the definition of Nicæa and the decree of Alexandria, in which the West has joined. Where, I should like to know, are the apostles of these doctrines? Where is their Paul, their new doctor of the Gentiles? I ask them what three hypostases are supposed to mean...I implore your blessedness, therefore, by the crucified Saviour of the world, and by the consubstantial trinity, to authorize me by letter either to use or to refuse this formula of three hypostases (Jerome. Letter 15 To Pope Damasus. c. 376/377. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001015.htm 03/09/07).

Clearly, if what that expression meant was not clear to Jerome by 376 A.D., it would not seem possible that accepting three hypostases could not have been a clear belief of the true and early Christians.

It should be understood Tertullian mentioned that the Church of Rome put up with the condemned heretics Marcion and Valentinus for two additional decades after Polycarp condemned them:

Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part,—and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 30. Translated by Peter Holmes. Electronic Version Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Knight. All rights reserved).

Eleutherius was the Bishop of Rome from 175-189. He also tolerated Montanus (which may be why Tertullian called him "blessed" as Tertullian eventually became a Montanist).

The Church at Rome tolerated the Montanist heretics for quite a while:

MONTANISM IN THE WEST
A second-century pope (more probably Eleutherius than Victor) was inclined to approve the new prophecies, according to Tertullian, but was dissuaded by Praxeas (q.v.). Their defender in Rome was Proclus or Proculus, much reverenced by Tertullian. A disputation was held by Gaius against him in the presence of Pope Zephyrinus (about 202-3, it would seem). (Chapman, John. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Montanists. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, the Church of Rome tolerated the Montanists until sometime into the third century, but they were denounced by the faithful in Asia Minor as soon as they arose in the second century.

Church of God:

The Bible records:

But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God." And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." (Acts 8:9-23).

History shows that even those now considered to be early supporters of the Roman Catholic Church condemned Simon and his followers for doctrines such as statues, revering a woman, the doctrine of the immortal soul, incantations, mysteries, mystic priests, claiming divine titles for leaders, accepting money for religious favors, preferring allegory and tradition over many aspects of scripture, having a leader who wanted to be thought of as God/Christ on earth, and divorcing themselves from Christian biblical practices considered to be Jewish (for details, please see the article Simon Magus, What Did He Teach?). Yet these are all practices that the Roman Catholic Church has adopted to some degree.

Polycarp, as shown above, condemned the anti-law, anti-Sabbath Marcion as well as the Gnostic, trinitarian Valentinus in 155 A.D. when he visited Rome. Yet these heretics apparently flourished under Pius and were tolerated to some degree by Roman Bishops until at least 175 A.D. And although they would not use the term Gnostic, the Roman Catholic Church eliminated the seventh-day Sabbath, eventually adopted the trinitarian position of Valentinus, and blended non-Christian practices into their religion (which is similar to what Gnostics like Valentinus did).

The Roman Catholic Church admits that the leaders of the true COG were opposed to the Montanists from the beginning. Notice:

The anonymous writer tells us that some thought Montanus to be possessed by an evil spirit, and a troubler of the people; they rebuked him and tried to stop his prophesying; the faithful of Asia assembled in many places, and examining the prophecies declared them profane, and condemned the heresy, so that the disciples were thrust out of the Church and its communion. It is difficult to say how soon this excommunication took place in Asia. Probably from the beginning some bishops excluded the followers of Montanus...(Chapman, John. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Montanists. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Also the Roman Catholic Church admits that the Quartodeciman Thraseas of Asia Minor was opposed to Montanus:

...the martyr-Bishop Thraseas, another adversary of Montanism (Grey F.W. Transcribed by Paul-Dominique Masiclat, O.P. Apollonius of Ephesus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, even Catholic history shows that many of the early heretics were tolerated by Rome and condemned by the true COG leaders of Asia Minor. It also shows that the Roman Catholic Church adopted many of the beliefs and practices of these heretics. Practices and beliefs that the COG has never adopted.

Prayers for the Dead

This is an area where the two groups differ, although originally they apparently held similar positions.

Roman Catholic Church:

Catholic teaching regarding prayers for the dead is bound up inseparably with the doctrine of purgatory and the more general doctrine of the communion of the saints, which is an article of the Apostle's Creed. The definition of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV), "that purgatory exists, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar", is merely a restatement in brief of the traditional teaching which had already been embodied in more than one authoritative formula -- as in the creed prescribed for converted Waldenses by Innocent III in 1210 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 3 73)...

We have said that there is no clear and explicit Scriptural text in favour of prayers for the dead, except the above text of II Machabees...Turning finally to early literary sources, we find evidence in the apocryphal "Acta Joannis", composed about A.D. 160-170, that at that time anniversaries of the dead were commemorated by the application of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Lipsius and Bonnet, "Acta Apost. Apocr.", I, 186). The same fact is witnessed by the "Canons of Hippolytus" (Ed. Achelis, p. 106), by Tertullian (De Cor. Mil., iii, P. L., II, 79), and by many later writers. (Toner P.J. Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett. Prayers for the Dead. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York) .

Church of God:

The COG rejects prayers for the dead.

It is of importance to note that II Machabees is not accepted as canonical by the COG or Protestants and was not formally accepted by the Roman Catholics until around the time of the Protestant Reformation--thus even Roman Catholic Church scholars admit that there is no clear evidence in scripture concerning prayer for the dead.

It is interesting that a creed was modified so that the "converted" Waldensians would be shown to be Roman Catholics.

Of course no true and faithful Waldenses ever converted to become Roman Catholics, as some were in the COG (please see the article In Search of the Thyatira Portion of the Church of God).

Worship Calendar

Both groups had similar worship calendars until some time into the second century--but by the end of the fourth century, there were many differences.

Roman Catholic Church:

If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example the Lord's day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost...(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VIII, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

In the Jewish system, besides the weekly sabbath, rest from work was enjoined on seven other days of the year, to wit: the first and last day of the Azymes, the feast of Pentecost, the Neomenia of the Seventh month, the day of Propitiation, the first day of Tabernacles, and 22 Tishri which immediately followed...

In the Christian system the day of rest has been transferred from the Sabbath to the Sunday...The starting-point of the Christian system of feasts was of course the commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ on Easter day...With it have naturally always been associated the commemoration of the events of Christ's Passion, the Last Supper on the Thursday, the Crucifixion on the Friday, and on the eve itself that great vigil or night watch when the paschal candle and the fonts were blessed and the catechumens, after long weeks of preparation, were at last admitted to the Sacrament of Baptism. Data are lacking concerning these separate elements in the great paschal celebration as it was observed in the earliest times...

Closely dependent upon Easter and gradually developing in number as time went on were other observances also belonging to the cycle of what we now call the movable feasts. Whitsunday (see PENTECOST), the anniversary of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, was probably regarded as next in importance to Easter itself, and as Easter was determined by the Jewish Pasch, there can be little doubt, seeing that Whitsunday stood in the same close relation to the Jewish feast of Pentecost, that the Jewish converts observed both a Christian Pasch and a Christian Pentecost from the very beginning. Ascension day, though determined in position by the fact that it was forty days after Easter (Acts 1:3) and ten before Whitsuntide, was not superimposed on any Jewish feast. We do not, consequently, find it attested by any writer earlier than Eusebius (De sol. pasch., Migne, P.G. xxiv, 679). Lent, which all admit to have been known as a forty days' fast in the early years of the fourth century (cf. the various Festal Letters of St. Athanasius), had of course a fixed terminus ad quem in Easter itself...

A second element which fundamentally influences the Christian calendar and which, though less primitive than the Easter celebrations, is also of early date, may be described as the Nativity Cycle. Of the origin and history of the feast of Christmas, dealt with in a separate article, little need now be said. We may take it as certain that the feast of Christ's Nativity was kept in Rome on 25 December before the year 354. It was introduced by St. John Chrysostom into Constantinople and definitively adopted in 395...

Another, and that the most substantial, element in the formation of the calendar is the record of the birthdays of the saints. It must be remembered that this word birthday (genethlios, natalis) had come to mean little more than commemoration. Already, before the Christian Era, various royal personages who were deified after death commonly had their "birthdays" kept as festivals...

The Annunciation again is said to be commemorated in an authentic sermon of Proclus of Constantinople, who died in 446, while the agreement of the Armenian and Æthiopic Christians in keeping similar festivals seems to throw back the period of their first introduction to a time earlier than that at which these schismatical churches broke away from unity. In the West, however, we have no definite details as to the earliest occurrence of these Marian feasts. We only know that they were kept at Rome with solemnity in the time of Pope Sergius I (687-701). (Thurston Herbert . Transcribed by Rick McCarty. Christian Calendar. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.)

Church of God:

THE SABBATH, MILLENNIUM, AND THE HOLY DAYS

The Sabbath is on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Hebrews 4:4,9), The Bible shows that Jesus Christ (Luke 4:16; 6:6; 13:10; Mark 6:2), the original apostles (Acts 17:2; 18:4), and those trying to be faithful in the early Church (Acts 17:2-4) observed God’s commanded Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11; Hebrews 4:9). Jesus declared that He was the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28); then in that sense, the real “Lord’s day” is the Sabbath which falls on the seventh day of the week. The Sabbath has long been a sign between God and His people (Exodus 31:13). Speaking of the seventh day (Hebrews 4:4), the New Testament teaches that there remains “a Sabbath-rest the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9, NIV). The Sabbath also helps picture the millennial reign of Jesus (Hebrews 4:1-4; 2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 20:4-6).

The Bible teaches that this millennial kingdom will be wonderful (Isaiah 2; 9; 11:1-10; 35:1-9;  Ezekiel 34:21-29, Micah 4:1-4; Acts 3:19-21) and that the saints will then reign with Jesus (Revelation 20:4-6).   Satan the devil will be banished during this time (Revelation 20:1-6), and it is a time of rest and abundance.

The Sabbath itself is observed weekly from sunset on the day commonly called Friday until sunset on the day commonly called Saturday.

Though at least part of how they observed them changed from how the children of Israel observed them, the early Christians observed the festivals and holy days listed in the Hebrew scriptures in Leviticus 23, but with a New Testament understanding.

Passover helps picture the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who scripture shows who came to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus observed Passover annually (Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:14; Luke 2:41-42; 22:15), died on Passover (Luke 22:15), and was sacrificed for us as “indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus made changes to the Passover including adding the symbols of unleavened bread and wine (Matthew 26:17, 26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) as well as the cleansing practice of footwashing (John 13:1-17).  It is kept annually (cf. Exodus 13:10).

The Days of Unleavened Bread, which come immediately after Passover, picture being cleansed from sin by the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus (cf. 2 Peter 1:9-11). They also picture that the leaven of hypocrisy, malice, and wickedness need to be purged (Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6-13). The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

Pentecost, described in the Hebrew scriptures as “the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits” (Exodus 23:16), pictures the start of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:1-4). Pentecost also helps picture that Christians are a type of firstfruits of God’s harvest (Romans 8:23; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; James 1:18), though “the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37-38). “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4-5).

The Feast of Trumpets helps picture the blowing of the seven trumpets in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 8,9,11:15-18), including “the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52) “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  Every seven years, a year of land-rest and debt release begins with this day (Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

The Day of Atonement, called “the Fast” in the New Testament (Acts 27:9), helps show our own weaknesses and need to be closer to God (Isaiah 58:5,11).  It also helps picture that Satan has a role in the sins of humankind and that he will be bound for one-thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3; cf. Leviticus 16:20-26; Isaiah 14:12-16).

The Feast of Tabernacles, which shows a time of abundance, helps picture the millennial reign (Revelation 20:4-5) of Jesus Christ and His saints on the earth (Zechariah 14; Matthew 9:37-38; 13:1-30; Luke 12:32; John 7:6-14; Acts 17:31; Revelation 5:10, 12:9). This future paradise, following the near total destruction that humanity will have brought upon itself through its activities and the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:21-31), will help show humanity the advantages of God’s way of life.  Every seven years, the law is to be read during this festival (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

The Last Great Day helps picture that all who ever lived will have an opportunity for salvation–an opportunity most will accept (John 7:37-39; Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Hebrews 9:27-28). The New Testament name comes from the Apostle John who wrote, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38).

History provides references that the early followers of Christ, such as Polycarp, observed the Sabbath on the seventh day and the other biblical holy days and festivals.

By observing the days that the Bible enjoins, Christians can come to understand more deeply God’s plan of salvation, and some of the steps taken toward salvation.  The biblical festivals show that Christ was truly sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7) and Christians are to live without the leaven of hypocrisy, malice, and wickness (Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6-13). The biblical festivals also help show that while some are predestined to be called in this Church Age (Ephesians 1:4-12; Acts 2:1-47), there is an age to come (Acts 3:21; Matthew 12:32), and the destiny of all others is to be presented an opportunity for salvation on the Last Great Day (John 7:37-38; 12:47-48; Romans 10:11-21). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13).

The days that the Roman Catholics list as Jewish, correspond with the days that the early church and we in the COG observe. The starting point for early Christian, Romans and others, was NOT the resurrection, but was Passover, which the Romans eventually changed to mainly a resurrection holiday.

It should be noted that the early church did not celebrate Christmas, and the Roman Catholics have no proof that they did prior to 354 A.D. Nor that they held feasts to Mary before the seventh century.

We in the real COG do not accept that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday. Nor do we accept a transfer from Passover to Easter, or the addition on non-biblical holidays. It should be noted that birthdays were not even observed by early Christianity.

Another article of related interest may be Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?

Unclean Meats

Leaders of both groups apparently followed the biblical practice of avoiding unclean meats until at least the late second century.

Roman Catholic Church:

Irenaeus' account below suggests that unclean meats were not eaten as late as perhaps 180 A.D.:

Now the law has figuratively predicted all these, delineating man by the [various] animals: whatsoever of these, says [the Scripture], have a double hoof and ruminate, it proclaims as clean; but whatsoever of them do not possess one or other of these [properties], it sets aside by themselves as unclean...The unclean, however, are those which do neither divide the hoof nor ruminate...But as to those animals which do indeed chew the cud, but have not the double hoof, and are themselves unclean...the Lord says, "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say to you?" For men of this stamp do indeed say that they believe in the Father and the Son, but they never meditate as they should upon the things of God, neither are they adorned with works of righteousness; but, as I have already observed, they have adopted the lives of swine and of dogs, giving themselves over to filthiness, to gluttony, and recklessness of all sorts. Justly, therefore, did the apostle call all such "carnal" (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 8 , Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But according to the Liber Pontificalis, this was changed by Bishop Eleutherius shortly after the time the above was written:

He also decreed that no kind of food in common use should be rejected especially by the Christian faithful, inasmuch as God created it; provided it was a rational food and fit for human kind (Book of the Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) 2nd edition. Translation by Raymond Davis. Liverpool University Press - Translated Texts for Historians, Liverpool, 2001, p.17).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Eleutherius a decree that no kind of food should be despised by Christians (Et hoc iterum firmavit ut nulla esca a Christians repudiaretur, maxime fidelibus, quod Deus creavit, quæ tamen rationalis et humana est).

It should be noted that Roman bishops were not called Popes that early. Anyway, according to Lopes' book The Popes, Eleutherius was bishop of Rome from 175-189 AD. This book (which I purchased at the Vatican itself) states this about Eleutherius:

He dispensed with the obligations of Christians to follow dietary laws of Judaic origin" (page 5).

The above book should have said the obligations of biblical origin as the dietary restrictions began with God and not Jews (the distinction between clean and unclean animals was known by at least Noah's time, since God so declared in Genesis 7:2-3; no one called of God in the Old Testament is ever shown to have consumed unclean meat). Hence the Catholics (and the Protestants that follow this edict) are relying on a pronouncement of a bishop of Rome.

Now, I should add that the Liber Pontificalis was composed in the fifth/sixth centuries and has a reputation, even amongst Roman Catholic scholars, for arbitrarily assigning events with certain "popes" (some of this is documented in the article What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History?). It would seem, however, that this could not have been assigned any earlier than Eleutherius because of Irenaeus' writings.

Hence, it is clear that well into the second century, the laws concerning clean and unclean meats were considered to have been in force for Christians. And that it is due to a later Catholic tradition that unclean animals became food for Roman supporters.

Church of God:

Unclean Meats were eaten by the early allegorists, but not by true Christians. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13).

This is another area where the Roman Catholics have changed practices from the original biblical teaching. An article of related interest may be The New Testament and Unclean Meats.

Involvement in Secular Politics

This is another area that the two groups apparently had similar original positions, but that later changed.

Roman Catholic Church:

And so let us grant that it is possible for any one to succeed in moving, in whatsoever office, under the mere name of the office, neither sacrificing nor lending his authority to sacrifices; not farming out victims; not assigning to others the care of temples; not looking after their tributes; not giving spectacles at his own or the public charge, or presiding over the giving them; making proclamation or edict for no solemnity; not even taking oaths: moreover (what comes under the head of power), neither sitting in judgment on any one's life or character, for you might bear with his judging about money; neither condemning nor fore-condemning; binding no one, imprisoning or torturing no one—if it is credible that all this is possible (Tertullian. Translated by S. Thelwall. On Idolatry, Chapter 17).

Notice what the Roman Catholic historian Socrates Scholasticus noted a strong tie between the Roman Emperors and the Roman Catholic Church:

We have continually included the emperors in these historical details; because from the time they began to profess the Christian religion, the affairs of the Church have depended on them, so that even the greatest Synods have been, and still are convened by their appointment (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Volume V, Introduction).

After Emperor Constantine, Roman Pontiffs have crowned various ones as Emperors as well as encouraged Roman Catholics to hold other political offices. The Roman Catholic Church also allows, and sometimes encourages, its members to vote. Furthermore, they have tended to use world leaders to enforce their practices.

Gregory definitely held that it was a duty of the secular ruler to protect the Church and preserve the "peace of the faith" (Mor., XXXI, viii), and so he is often found to call in the aid of the secular arm, not merely to suppress schism, heresy, or idolatry, but even to enforce discipline among monks and clergy (Epp., I, lxxii; II, xxix; III, lix; IV, vii, xxxii; V, xxxii; VIII, iv; XI, xii, xxxvii; XIII, xxxvi). If the emperor interfered in church matters the pope's policy was to acquiesce if possible, unless obedience was sinful, according to the principle laid down in Epp. XI, xxix; "Quod ipse [se imperator] fecerit, si canonicum est, sequimur; si vero canonicum non est, in quantum sine peccato nostro, portamus." In taking this line Gregory was undoubtedly influenced by his deep reverence for the emperor, whom he regarded as the representative of God in all things secular, and must still be treated with all possible respect, even when he encroached on the borders of the papal authority (Huddleston, G. Roger . Transcribed by Janet van Heyst. Pope St. Gregory I ("the Great"). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

One Roman Catholic scholar has observed:

In the flux of history, the papacy has been, not a mere spectator, but a major player. As the Roman empire collapsed, and the barbarian nations arose to fill the vacuum, the popes...set themselves to shape the destiny of the West...creating emperors, deposing monarchs...Popes have divided the known and yet to be discovered world between colonial powers...have plunged nations and continents into war (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p. xi).

Church of God:

The Apostle Paul taught “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20). The Apostle Peter taught that God’s people were “a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out” (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible also teaches that this world has been deceived by Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9) and that God’s people need to be separate from the world (John 15:19; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; Revelation 18:4). Thus, historically, the Church of God has taught that its members not participate in secular juries and secular politics. However, Christians are expected to listen to (and pray for, 1 Timothy 2:1-3) governmental authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17) and pay their taxes (Matthew 22:17-21), yet if there is a conflict between the laws of men and the laws of God, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29, NLT). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

While Tertullian (late second/early third century) suggests that it might be possible to be part of the world's governments, he had reservations about it. This, of course, changed within the Roman Catholic Church after Emperor Constantine arose.

Military Participation in Carnal Warfare

Leaders of both groups clearly taught against being involved in carnal warfare until the third or fourth centuries.

Roman Catholic Church:

Tatian, a professing Christian apologist, wrote around 170 A.D.:

And for these the witnesses take their seats, and the boxers meet in single combat, for no reason whatever, nor does any one come down into the arena to succour. Do such exhibitions as these redound to your credit? He who is chief among you collects a legion of blood-stained murderers, engaging to maintain them; and these ruffians are sent forth by him, and you assemble at the spectacle to be judges, partly of the wickedness of the adjudicator, and partly of that of the men who engage in the combat. And he who misses the murderous exhibition is grieved, because he was not doomed to be a spectator of wicked and impious and abominable deeds (Tatian. Translated by J.E. Ryland. Tatian's Address to the Greeks, Chapter XXIII . Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Athenagoras, a professing Christian apologist, wrote around 170 A.D.:

What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers?...

Who does not reckon among the things of greatest interest the contests of gladiators and wild beasts, especially those which are given by you? But we, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles (Athenagoras. A Plea for the Christians, Chapter XXXV. Translated by B.P. Pratten. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The Roman Catholic Theologian Hippolytus, early third century, noted this:

That it is not meet for Christians to bear arms (Hippolytus. Heads of the Canons of Abulides or Hippolytus, Which Are Used by the Ethiopian Christians. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Notice that it changed according to a former Catholic priest:

Whereas up to the year 175 there was not a single Christian soldier, in 416, by an edict of Theodosius, only Christians were allowed to enlist (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 2000, p. 156).

Notice what Thomas Aquinas wrote justifying war:

Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace, which Our Lord "came not to send upon earth" (Matthew 10:34). Hence Augustine says (Ep. ad Bonif. clxxxix): "We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore, in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace" (Aquinas Thomas. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Online Edition Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS. Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

Pope Benedict XVI taught:

In this regard, the Introduction of "Spirituali Militum Curae" expressly cites "Gaudium et Spes," recalling that those doing military service must be considered as "ministers of the security and freedom of peoples", because, "if they carry out their duties properly, they also truly contribute to stabilizing peace" (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," n. 79). If, therefore, the Council calls members of the armed forces "custodians of security", how much more so would be the Pastors to whom they are entrusted! (Benedict XVI. Giving Priority to the Soldier's Christian Formation. Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered in the Vatican on Oct. 26 to the participants in the 5th International Congress of Military Ordinariates. From http://www.zenit.org/english/ 11/13/06 ).

Church of God:

Melito wrote, around 170 A.D., that if a leader is just, then God provides peace:

My opinion is this: that in `this' way a kingdom may be governed in peace-when the sovereign is acquainted with the God of truth, and is withheld by fear of Him from doing wrong to those who are his subjects, and judges everything with equity, as one who knows that he himself also will be judged before God; while, at the same time, those who are under his rule are withheld by the fear of God from doing wrong to their sovereign, and are restrained by the same fear from doing wrong to one another. By this knowledge of God and fear of Him all evil may be removed from the realm. For, if the sovereign abstain from doing wrong to those who are under his rule, and they abstain from doing wrong to him and to each other, it is evident that the whole country will dwell in peace. Many blessings, too, will be enjoyed there, because amongst them all the name of God will be glorified. For what blessing is greater than this, that a sovereign should deliver the people that are under his rule from error, and by this good deed render himself pleasing to God? For from error arise all those evils from which kingdoms suffer; but the greatest of all errors is this: when a man is ignorant of God, and in God's stead worships that which is not God. (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. A DISCOURSE WHICH WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF ANTONINUS CAESAR, AND HE EXHORTED THE SAID CAESAR TO ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND SHOWED TO HIM THE WAY OF TRUTH. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 11/18/06).

Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The heresy of the Bogomili was started in the tenth century...followers called themselves Christians and considered their faith the only true one. In Bosnia they were named Paterines. The Paterines, or Bogomili...forbade intercourse with those of other faiths, disbelieved in war (Klaar K. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

CCOG teaches:

Jesus taught, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). John the Baptist taught, “Do violence to no man” (Luke 3:14, KJV). Historically, those of the Church of God have considered military service as wrong for its members. From Revolutionary War times to the Civil War and to present, countries like the United States have tended to have had provisions to exempt Church of God members and congregants from military participation because of conscientious objections. Early Christians did not participate in military warfare nor watch violent sports. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

It should be noted that the fact that there were reportedly none who professed Christ being soldiers in 175 A.D. (over 140 years after Jesus was crucified) shows that early Christians must have understood from BOTH the Bible and the teachings of the apostles and other early leaders that Christians did not participate in the military. Thus, those who made up the military later, could not have been true to apostolic Christianity, and I would not refer to them as Christians--but instead as those who accepted Greco-Roman Catholicism (catholicism as practiced by the Greeks and Romans).

The biblically-based article Military Service and the COGs provides more information as to why true Christians would not kill people in military conflict. And shows that early Christians would not participate in the military. This difference in views also led to persecutions of non-Catholics by Catholic authorities, such as the inquisition (please see the article Thyatira Church Era). It also led to the Catholic Crusades (please see the article The Bible and the Arab World In History and Prophecy).

Persecutor or Persecuted?

Leaders of both groups clearly taught against being a persecutor until the fourth century.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the Apostle Paul, as well as early professors of Christ, did not persecute nor kill heretics or other dissenters:

Though the Apostles were deeply imbued with the conviction that they must transmit the deposit of the Faith to posterity undefiled, and that any teaching at variance with their own, even if proclaimed by an angel of Heaven, would be a culpable offense, yet St. Paul did not, in the case of the heretics Alexander and Hymeneus, go back to the Old Covenant penalties of death or scourging (Deuteronomy 13:6 sqq.; 17:1 sqq.), but deemed exclusion from the communion of the Church sufficient (1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10). In fact to the Christians of the first three centuries it could scarcely have occurred to assume any other attitude towards those who erred in matters of faith. Tertullian (To Scapula 2) lays down the rule:

Humani iuris et naturalis potestatis, unicuique quod putaverit colere, nec alii obest aut prodest alterius religio. Sed nec religionis est religionem colere, quae sponte suscipi debeat, non vi.

In other words, he tells us that the natural law authorized man to follow only the voice of individual conscience in the practice of religion, since the acceptance of religion was a matter of free will, not of compulsion. Replying to the accusation of Celsus, based on the Old Testament, that the Christians persecuted dissidents with death, burning, and torture, Origen (Against Celsus VII.26) is satisfied with explaining that one must distinguish between the law which the Jews received from Moses and that given to the Christians by Jesus; the former was binding on the Jews, the latter on the Christians. Jewish Christians, if sincere, could no longer conform to all of the Mosaic law; hence they were no longer at liberty to kill their enemies or to burn and stone violators of the Christian Law.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, surrounded as he was by countless schismatics and undutiful Christians, also put aside the material sanction of the Old Testament, which punished with death rebellion against priesthood and the Judges. "Nunc autem, quia circumcisio spiritalis esse apud fideles servos Dei coepit, spiritali gladio superbi et contumaces necantur, dum de Ecclesia ejiciuntur" (Epistle 61, no. 4) religion being now spiritual, its sanctions take on the same character, and excommunication replaces the death of the body. Lactantius was yet smarting under the scourge of bloody persecutions, when he wrote this Divine Institutes in A.D. 308. Naturally, therefore, he stood for the most absolute freedom of religion. He writes:

Religion being a matter of the will, it cannot be forced on anyone; in this matter it is better to employ words than blows [verbis melius quam verberibus res agenda est]. Of what use is cruelty? What has the rack to do with piety? Surely there is no connection between truth and violence, between justice and cruelty . . . . It is true that nothing is so important as religion, and one must defend it at any cost [summâ vi] . . . It is true that it must be protected, but by dying for it, not by killing others; by long-suffering, not by violence; by faith, not by crime. If you attempt to defend religion with bloodshed and torture, what you do is not defense, but desecration and insult. For nothing is so intrinsically a matter of free will as religion. (Divine Institutes V:20)

The Christian teachers of the first three centuries insisted, as was natural for them, on complete religious liberty; furthermore, they not only urged the principle that religion could not be forced on others — a principle always adhered to by the Church in her dealings with the unbaptised — but, when comparing the Mosaic Law and the Christian religion, they taught that the latter was content with a spiritual punishment of heretics (i.e. with excommunication), while Judaism necessarily proceeded against its dissidents with torture and death. (Blötzer, J. Inquisition. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Retrieved November 22, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08026a.htm)

Yet, the though it admits that religious freedom and non-persecution was essentially as part of its original traditions, Church of Rome changed its views later (because of Constantine):

However, the imperial successors of Constantine soon began to see in themselves Divinely appointed "bishops of the exterior"… they retained the traditional authority of "Pontifex Maximus", and in this way the civil authority inclined, frequently in league with prelates…to persecute… (Blötzer, J. Inquisition).

But is this something that real Christians should have supported?

Church of God:

The Church of God has never been the persecutor, but often among the persecuted:

Revelation 2 and 3 shows the history of the church...We are...the one true Church...The true church is mentioned in Revelation 12...it was a persecuted church...it was always small...We are that church...The true Church has always had its biblical name...The Church of God and sometimes with a location or another word associated with it (Armstrong HW. Approximate Quotes from: A History of the Church of God--The Transition from Sardis to the Philadelphia Era. Behind the Work Video Sermon, Feast of Tabernacles 1983).

Jesus taught:

When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:23).

2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. (John 16:2-3)

If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20).

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).

Was the true Church supposed to be the persecutors or the persecuted? Jesus clearly taught the latter (please also see the article Persecutions from Church and State) as did the Apostle John who also wrote "do not imitate what is evil" (3 John 11). Notice that Jesus taught because of persecution, the true Church would often have to flee and change locations (Matthew 10:23)--He did not teach "an eternal city" location for the headquarters of His church. This need to flee has happened much more for the headquarters of the Church of God than the Church of Rome.

Christmas Celebrations Condemned, Not Originally Observed

Notice what Tertullian wrote about winter celebrations, such as Saturnalia (from a pagan deity whose name meant plentiful), which is the period that later became Christmas and New Year's:

The Minervalia are as much Minerva's, as the Saturnalia Saturn's; Saturn's, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year's gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens' wives and the aediles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol's birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are befitting to a Christian master, unless it be he who shall think them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter X. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice the following:

Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. It entered Europe from Asia Minor after Alexander's conquest, spread rapidly over the whole Roman Empire at the beginning of our era, reached its zenith during the third century, and vanished under the repressive regulations of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century...Helios Mithras is one god...Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra...The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen. J.P. Transcribed by John Looby. Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The World Book Encyclopedia notes,

In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun (Sechrist E.H. Christmas. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 3. Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1966, pp. 408-417).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church (Martindale C. Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Furthermore, The Catholic Encyclopedia admits this about Christmas:

Christmas...Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the "birthdays" of the gods.

Alexandria. The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Strom., I, xxi in P.G., VIII, 888) says that certain Egyptian theologians "over curiously" assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ's birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus...

Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Asia Minor. In Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserts against the Alogi (Hær., li, 16, 24 in P. G., XLI, 919, 931) that Christ was born on 6 January...

Jerusalem...In 385, therefore, 25 December was not observed at Jerusalem.This checks the so-called correspondence between Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) and Pope Julius I (337-352), quoted by John of Nikiu (c. 900) to convert Armenia to 25 December (see P.L., VIII, 964 sqq.). Cyril declares that his clergy cannot, on the single feast of Birth and Baptism, make a double procession to Bethlehem and Jordan. (This later practice is here an anachronism.) He asks Julius to assign the true date of the nativity "from census documents brought by Titus to Rome"; Julius assigns 25 December...

Rome. At Rome the earliest evidence is in the Philocalian Calendar (P. L., XIII, 675; it can be seen as a whole in J. Strzygowski, Kalenderbilder des Chron. von Jahre 354, Berlin, 1888), compiled in 354, which contains three important entries. In the civil calendar 25 December is marked "Natalis Invicti"...

By the time of Jerome and Augustine, the December feast is established, though the latter (Epp., II, liv, 12, in P.L., XXXIII, 200) omits it from a list of first-class festivals. From the fourth century every Western calendar assigns it to 25 December...

The Gospels. Concerning the date of Christ's birth the Gospels give no help; upon their data contradictory arguments are based. The census would have been impossible in winter: a whole population could not then be put in motion...

Natalis Invicti. The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont's epoch-making "Textes et Monuments" etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355...The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cypr., "De pasch. Comp.", xix, "O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus." - "O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born."...

Cards and presents. Pagan customs centering round the January calends gravitated to Christmas...

The yule log. The calend fires were a scandal even to Rome, and St. Boniface obtained from Pope Zachary their abolition (Martindale C. Christmas, 1908).

Since Mithras birthday was celebrated on December 25th, you may wish to see the article Do You Practice Mithraism?

Church of God:

The Continuing Church of God teaches:

Christmas celebrations were not observed by the early New Testament church nor were birthdays. Neither Jesus nor the apostles celebrated His birthday.

John Ogwyn taught:

To help us understand, we can look at the word "Christmas" itself. It means "mass of Christ," and has its origins in the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet even Catholic sources acknowledge that Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church, and that it does not have apostolic origins. Notice: "Christmas (i.e. the Mass of Christ), in the Christian Church, the festival of the nativity of Jesus Christ… As late as 245 Origen, in his eighth homily on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ ‘as if he were a king Pharaoh.’ The first certain mention of Dec. 25 is in a Latin chronographer of A.D. 354, first published entire by Mommsen.… [December 25 was] a Mithraic feast and is by the chronographer above referred to, but in another part of his compilation, termed natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered Sun" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., article: "Christmas").

The New Testament makes certain key dates plain; for example, it tells us that Jesus Christ died on the day of the Passover. Yet Scripture does not mention the date of Jesus’ birth, and does not recount any Christians celebrating His birthday. In fact, the Bible associates the celebration of birthdays with the practices of heathen kings, and never mentions such celebrations in a positive light. This is why Origen—one of the early "Fathers" of the Roman Church, writing in the third century—was shocked at the very idea of celebrating the Savior’s birthday.

When the early Roman Church established a festival to celebrate the Messiah’s birth, it timed that festival to coincide with an existing pagan festival celebrating the birthday of the sun god. By co-opting existing pagan rituals and customs, the church sought to win the pagan masses to its idea of Christianity, allowing converts to continue to practice familiar customs—just calling them by different names...

Ask yourself a simple question. Should those who claim to be Christian take the Bible seriously? In Jeremiah 10:2, God declared to His people through the pen of the prophet: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles." He went on to state that "the customs of the peoples are futile," that is, they are utterly empty and useless. God wants His people to follow His instructions, not to look at pagan practices and seek to copy them. What kind of empty, pagan customs was Jeremiah talking about in Jeremiah 10? The specific example in that chapter involved going out into the woods, cutting a tree and bringing it home to set it upright and decorate it (vv. 3–4). Does this sound amazingly like putting up a Christmas tree? It should.

Jesus declared: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:7). Those who wish to use Christmas to worship Christ are faced with a dilemma: do they follow the pattern of worship prescribed in Scripture, or do they cling to cherished customs, regardless of when and how those customs originated? Jesus censured many of the religious leaders of His day because they rejected the commandments of God in order to keep their own traditions (v. 9).

Would Jesus say those same words to you, based upon your actions and your choices?...

So, instead of seeking to put Christ back into Christmas, we must acknowledge that He was never there in the first place! Christmas never was Christian! (Ogwyn J. Is Christmas Christian? Tomorrow's World. Nov-Dec 2004).

The COG does not now, nor did it ever, endorse the celebration of Christmas. It was not taught to be observed in the New Testament and it certainly was not celebrated by early true Christians. More can be found about it in the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

Differing Bibles: The So-Called Deuterocanonical Books

Leaders in both groups originally considered the so-called deuterocanonical books to be inferior to scripture, but the Roman Catholic Church changed its position later.

Roman Catholic Church:

...the inferior rank to which the deuteros were relegated by authorities like Origen, Athanasius, and Jerome, was due to too rigid a conception of canonicity, one demanding that a book, to be entitled to this supreme dignity, must be received by all, must have the sanction of Jewish antiquity, and must moreover be adapted not only to edification, but also to the "confirmation of the doctrine of the Church", to borrow Jerome's phrase (Reid G. Canon of the Old Testament. Transcribed by Ernie Stefanik. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The protocanonical books of the Old Testament correspond with those of the Bible of the Hebrews, and the Old Testament as received by Protestants. The deuterocanonical (deuteros, "second") are those whose Scriptural character was contested in some quarters, but which long ago gained a secure footing in the Bible of the Catholic Church, though those of the Old Testament are classed by Protestants as the "Apocrypha". These consist of seven books: Tobias (Tobit), Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I and II Machabees, and three documents added to protocanonical books, viz., the supplement to Esther, from x, 4, to the end, the Canticle of the Three Youths (Song of the Three Children) in Daniel, iii, and the stories of Susanna and the Elders and Bel and the Dragon, forming the closing chapters of the Catholic version of that book...The ancient Greek Old Testament known as the Septuagint was the vehicle which conveyed these additional Scriptures into the Catholic Church. The Septuagint version was the Bible of the Greek-speaking, or Hellenist, Jews, whose intellectual and literary centre was Alexandria (see SEPTUAGINT). The oldest extant copies date from the fourth and fifth centuries of our era...The most explicit definition of the Catholic Canon is that given by the Council of Trent, Session IV, 1546...The order of books copies that of the Council of Florence, 1442, and in its general plan is that of the Septuagint (Reid, Canon of the Old Testament).

St. Melito, Bishop of Sardis (c. 170), first drew up a list of the canonical books of the Old Testament. While maintaining the familiar arrangement of the Septuagint, he says that he verified his catalogue by inquiry among Jews; Jewry by that time had everywhere discarded the Alexandrian books, and Melito's Canon consists exclusively of the protocanonicals minus Esther...

THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT DURING THE FOURTH, AND FIRST HALF OF THE FIFTH, CENTURY

In this period the position of the deuterocanonical literature is no longer as secure...Alexandria, with its elastic Scriptures, had from the beginning been a congenial field for apocryphal literature, and St. Athanasius, the vigilant pastor of that flock, to protect it against the pernicious influence, drew up a catalogue of books with the values to be attached to each. First, the strict canon and authoritative source of truth is the Jewish Old Testament, Esther excepted...Following the precedent of Origen and the Alexandrian tradition, the saintly doctor recognized no other formal canon of the Old Testament than the Hebrew one; but also, faithful to the same tradition, he practically admitted the deutero books to a Scriptural dignity, as is evident from his general usage...

THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE FIFTH TO THE CLOSE OF THE SEVENTH CENTURY

This period exhibits a curious exchange of opinions between the West and the East, while ecclesiastical usage remained unchanged, at least in the Latin Church. During this intermediate age the use of St. Jerome's new version of the Old Testament (the Vulgate) became widespread in the Occident. With its text went Jerome's prefaces disparaging the deuterocanonicals, and under the influence of his authority the West began to distrust these and to show the first symptoms of a current hostile to their canonicity...

The Latin Church

In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. (Reid, Canon of the Old Testament).

And notice that even Athanasius in the fourth century really did not consider that the deuterocanonical books were actually scripture, and that Jerome in the fifth century made disparaging comments about them. And even into the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was not sure if the deuterocanonical books were on a par with scripture. Thus, it took until 1546 for these deuterocanonical books to be completely adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.

Church of God:

Melito, c. 170, wrote:

Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting:--

As you have often, prompted by your regard for the word of God, expressed a wish to have some extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour, and concerning our faith in general, and have desired, moreover, to obtain an accurate account of the Ancient Books, as regards their number and their arrangement, I have striven to the best of my ability to perform this task: well knowing your zeal for the faith, and your eagerness to become acquainted with the Word, and especially because I am assured that, through your yearning after God, you esteem these things beyond all things else, engaged as you are in a struggle for eternal salvation.

I accordingly proceeded to the East, and went to the very spot where the things in question were preached and took place; and, having made myself accurately acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, I have set them down below, and herewith send you the list. Their names are as follows:--

The five books of Moses--Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made my extracts, dividing them into six books. (Melito. From the Book of Extracts).

These are the books in the Old Testament used by most Jews, Protestants, and those in the real COG (Esther is believed to have been left out for political reasons as it shows the Jews taking vengeance upon and killing their enemies). It should be noted that Melito claims this was an accurate list.

The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God. As commonly divided, it is a collection of 66 books, with 39 from the Hebrew scriptures (The Old Testament Canon) and 27 from the Greek Scriptures (The New Testament Canon). Scripture is inspired in thought and word and contains knowledge of what is needed for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 4:4; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Scripture is truth (John 17:17) and is infallible and inerrant in its original manuscripts (John 10:35). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13

Both the Roman Catholic Church and the COG accepts the same book of the New Testament. The real COG does not accept the so-called deuterocanonical books, that even the Roman Catholic Church admits, were not formally accepted until 1546.

It should be emphasized that when Melito, a saint according to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, listed the books of the Old Testament, he did not list any of the deuterocanonical books.

An article of related interest may be The Old Testament Canon.

When Did The Church Know the Books of the Bible?

Although early leaders seemed to agree originally, both groups differ on this point as the Roman Catholic Church says that it gave the Bible to the world, while the COG teaches that by the time the apostle John died, the Bible was complete and its canonization known among the true believers, many of which were in Asia Minor.

Roman Catholic Church:

Irenaeus acted like everyone knew the N.T. canon when he made statements such as:

Some passages, also, which occur in the Gospels (Book 1, Chapter 20, Verse 2).

That expression of Scripture, "Seek, and ye shall find," (Book II, Chapter 30, Verse 2).

A sound mind, and one which does not expose its possessor to danger, and is devoted to piety and the love of truth, will eagerly meditate upon those things which God has placed within the power of mankind, and has subjected to our knowledge, and will make advancement in [acquaintance with] them, rendering the knowledge of them easy to him by means of daily study. These things are such as fall [plainly] under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures. And therefore the parables ought not to be adapted to ambiguous expressions (Book II, Chapter 27, Verse 1).

We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us (Book III, Chapter 1, Verse 1).

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the "pillar and ground" of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit (Book III, Chapter 11, Verse 8).

We must conclude, moreover, that these men (the Montanists) can not admit the Apostle Paul either. For, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, he speaks expressly of prophetical gifts (Book III, Chapter 11, Verse 9).

The Apostle Peter, therefore, after the resurrection of the Lord, and His assumption into the heavens, being desirous of filling up the number of the twelve apostles, and in electing into the place of Judas any substitute who should be chosen by God, thus addressed those who were present: "Men [and] brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas, which was made guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us: ... Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; and, His bishop-rick let another take;" -- thus leading to the completion of the apostles (Book III, Chapter 12, Verse 1).

...in the Epistle to the Galatians...(Book III, Chapter 13, Verse 3).

...in the New Testament...(Book IV, Chapter 28, Verse 2).

Speaking of antichrist, too, he says clearly in the Second to the Thessalonians...(Book IV, Chapter 21, Verse 1).

(Irenaeus. Adversus haereses. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The statement about a sound mind is from 2 Timothy 1:7. The parables are in the gospel accounts. A further read into Adversus haereses shows that the four gospels he is referring to are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not any gnostic ones). The statement from and about Peter are from the Book of Acts. He also mentions Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, and Thessalonians by name. The fact that Irenaeus states that things are clear and unambiguous in the Sacred Scriptures (and he only refers to the New Testament teachings in the above passages) is clear evidence that he felt that the canon was known.

Furthermore, Irenaeus also wrote:

After this fashion also did a presbyter, a disciple of the apostles, reason with respect to the two testaments, proving that both were truly from one and the same God...

For all the apostles taught that there were indeed two testaments among the two peoples; but that it was one and the same God who appointed both for the advantage of those men (for whose sakes the testaments were given) who were to believe in God (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Chapter 32, Verse 1,2. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Hence Irenaeus is clearly claiming that the apostles knew the books of the Old and New Testaments. Thus he believed that the early church did have the entire canon of the Bible. I suspect that the "presbyter, a disciple of the apostles" Irenaeus is referring to was Polycarp. And if so, this shows that the church in Asia Minor had the complete biblical canon very early on.

Around the time of Melito and Irenaeus, Theophilus of Antioch wrote:

Therefore, do not be sceptical, but believe; for I myself also used to disbelieve that this would take place, but now, having taken these things into consideration, I believe. At the same time, I met with the sacred Scriptures of the holy prophets, who also by the Spirit of God foretold the things that have already happened, just as they came to pass, and the things now occurring as they are now happening, and things future in the order in which they shall be accomplished. Admitting, therefore, the proof which events happening as predicted afford, I do not disbelieve, t (sic) I believe, obedient to God, whom, if you please, do you also submit to, believing Him, lest if now you continue unbelieving, you be convinced hereafter, when you are tormented with eternal punishments; which punishments, when they had been foretold by the prophets, the later-born poets and philosophers stole from the holy Scriptures, to make their doctrines worthy of credit. Yet these also have spoken beforehand of the punishments that are to light upon the profane and unbelieving, in order that none be left without a witness, or be able to say, "We have not heard, neither have we known." But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God...But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled with adulteries and fornications, and filthiness, and covetousness, and unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 1, Chapter VII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

And concerning chastity, the holy word teaches us not only not to sin in act, but not even in thought, not even in the heart to think of any evil, nor look on another man's wife with our eyes to lust after her (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book III, Chapter XIII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Since fornication, for example, is directly mentioned in the New Testament (while not really mentioned by that name in the Old), it appears that Theophilus is encouraging unbelievers to listen to all the Scriptures, using the New Testament as part of an evangelistic tool. Also since it was Jesus who specifically taught that to lust after another woman was sin, Theophilus is endorsing the concept that the New Testament contains the word of God.

Yet, the Roman Church teaches something differently:

The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council...But in the Synod of Hippo (393) the great Doctor's view prevailed, and the correct Canon was adopted. However, it is evident that it found many opponents in Africa, since three councils there at brief intervals--Hippo, Carthage, in 393; Third of Carthage in 397; Carthage in 419--found it necessary to formulate catalogues...So at the close of the first decade of the fifth century the entire Western Church was in possession of the full Canon of the New Testament (Reid, George J. Transcribed by Ernie Stefanik Canon of the New Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Church of God:

According to the portion of Charles Leach's book, Our Bible: How We Got It (1898) where he discusses Polycarp's epistle,

In the whole Epistle, which occupies but ten minutes to read, we find the language of Matthew, Luke, John, and the Acts of the Apostles; of the Epistle of Peter; and of Paul's Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy, and Titus. Here, then, we get a link in our chain which connects us to the actual writers of the New Testament, and assures us, beyond all possibility of doubt, that the contents of our New Testament were in the hands of the men who lived before the last of the Apostles were dead.

In addition, Polycarp made it clear that those he wrote to had the correct Bible otherwise he would not have written:

For I trust that ye are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared then in these Scriptures, "Be ye angry, and sin not," and, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Note that Polycarp quoted a verse that is in the New Testament, when he used the term Scriptures.

Other scholars, such as the late James Moffatt, have recognized that the church in Asia Minor had the canon first:

Was not the Apostolic Canon of scripture first formed...in Asia Minor? Was not Asia Minor ahead of Rome in the formation of the Apostolic, Episcopal, ministry?...The real thinking upon vital Christianity for centuries was done outside the Roman Church (Excerpt of James Moffatt's review, p.292. In: Bauer W. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 2nd ed. Sigler Press Edition, Mifflinown (PA), 1996).

Furthermore around 195 A.D., one after Theophilus, specifically claiming to be a successor of Melito and Polycarp, Polycrates, taught:

I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture (Polycrates. Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

Thus, it appears obvious that history also supports that the true Church of God knew the proper NT canon from the beginning.

Thus, although early writers acknowledged that they knew what the books of the Bible were, the Roman Catholic position is that there is no historical evidence to support the idea that the church did know. To demonstrate that the New Testament can be traced from John (very late first century), to Polycarp (early to mid second century) to Melito (mid to late second century) to Polycrates (very late second century), please see the article The New Testament Canon - From the Bible and History.

Sacraments?

While both groups baptize, marry, ordain ministers, etc., the Roman Catholic Church calls these sacraments, while the COG usually simply refers to the acts by their respective names.

Roman Catholic Church:

Taking the word "sacrament" in its broadest sense, as the sign of something sacred and hidden (the Greek word is "mystery"), we can say that the whole world is a vast sacramental system, in that material things are unto men the signs of things spiritual and sacred, even of the Divinity...According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, accepted today by many Episcopalians, the sacraments of the Christian dispensation are not mere signs; they do not merely signify Divine grace, but in virtue of their Divine institution, they cause that grace in the souls of men. "Signum sacro sanctum efficax gratiae" -- a sacrosanct sign producing grace, is a good, succinct definition of a sacrament of the New Law...The Council of Trent solemnly defined that there are seven sacraments of the New Law, truly and properly so called, viz., Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony. The same enumeration had been made in the Decree for the Armenians by the Council of Florence (1439), in the Profession of Faith of Michael (Kennedy D.J. Transcribed by Marie Jutras. Sacraments. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The sacramental concept of "confirmation" is also not anywhere in the Bible nor in any known writings prior to the third century.

Church of God:

The Paulicians, as part of their heresy held that...all external religious forms, sacraments, rites, especially material pictures and relics, should be abolished. (Fortescue A. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler. Iconoclasm. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York)

The COG does not tend to use the term "sacraments."

The COG does baptize (but adults, and only after repentance), anoint the sick, keep the Holy Days, observe Passover (which the Roman Catholic Church changed and now calls Easter), and endorse marriage. Although they do not have holy orders, they do have positions of ordained spiritual leadership in accordance with scripture (but we do not refer to those leaders as 'father', 'reverend', or similar terms that the Roman Catholic Church uses) (Thiel B. COG member).

Was it heretical to object to sacraments and ceremonies that were not in the Bible?

The Paulicians (roughly 6th-10th century, though some appeared earlier) were against sacraments and relics (like idols, please see the article What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?) as was the original church. So would they be the heretics or are the real heretics those who changed practices to endorse unbiblical sacramental practices?

It should be noted that the duties of the early presbyters involved leading the church and were not sacramental. This is documented in the article What Were the Early Duties of Elders/Pastors?

Dealing With Satan

Though both understand that the Bible teaches to resist Satanthe Devil and pray, some Roman Catholics have suggest a somewhat different approach.

Roman Catholic Church:

Ernest Hello has some splendid reflections on this subject, which he develops as follows: "People influenced by the Devil deny his existence, for he only reveals himself to those that withstand him. The Church provides us with several weapons against him, and Holy Water first of all...Water is austere, deep, boundless, magnificent, above all a necessity. Its mission is to purify and to preserve, to put Satan to flight by providing little children with weapons against him" " Cited in (Bessieres A. Wife, Mother and Mystic (Blessed Anna Maria Taigi). Nihil Obstat: Carlos Davis, S.T.L. Imprimatur: E Morrough Bernard, Westmonasteri, die Februari, 1952. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1982, p. 148).

Church of God:

James wrote:

"God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:6-8).

...As we get closer to the end, there will be more and more wonders from the demon possessed.

Notice what Paul was inspired to write:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

Paul is teaching that those who do not have the love of the truth, those who rely on traditions of men more than the Bible, will be deceived by those influenced by Satan.

Even though demons may have signs that suggest that they are powerful, the Apostle John wrote,

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out in the world...We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (I John 4:1,6).

We in the true Church need to stay close to God to protect us from these spirits which are afflicting the world. We need to meditate on the things of God and obey Him. (Thiel B. Close Encounters of a 'Spirit' Kind http://www.cogwriter.com/close.htm viewed 09/04/13)

As "Holy Water" was not used by the early church (it seems to have been a fourth century item), that approach to dealing with Satan the Devil is another change by the Roman Church.

Original Similarities in Prophetic Understandings--Rome and the Antichrist

Both groups realize that the Bible has warnings about a Roman power and the Antichrist.

Roman Catholic Church:

From Tertullian:

What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins)? "And then shall be revealed the wicked one, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish" (Tertullian. On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 24).

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:

"The Church that is in Babylon saluteth you, and so doth my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13). That Babylon stands for Rome, as usual amongst pious Jews, and not for the real Babylon, then without Christians, is admitted by common consent (cf. F.J.A. Hort, "Judaistic Christianity", London, 1895, 155) (Wilhelm J. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Apostolic Succession. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

From the Catholic Saint Victorinus writing near the beginning of the fourth century:

Nor must we look for order in the Apocalypse; but we must follow the meaning of those things which are prophesied. Therefore in the trumpets and phials is signified either the desolation of the plagues that are sent upon the earth, or the madness of Antichrist himself, or the cutting off of the peoples, or the diversity of the plagues, or the hope in the kingdom of the saints, or the ruin of states, or the great overthrow of Babylon, that is, the Roman state (Victorinus. Commentary on the Apocalypse, Chapter 7, Verse 8. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

From Roman Catholic scholar E. Duffy:

There was a strong anti-Roman tradition in the early Church. Rome was the harlot city soaked in the blood of the saints, the centre from which spread out wave after wave of persecution. The Book of Revelations' gloating vision of the coming ruin of Rome, 'Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great' (Revelations 14:8), remained a persistent strand so long as the empire continued to persecute the church, and survived even into the Middle Ages (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, pp. 16-17).

From the commentary in the Rheims' New Testament:

The author of the Commentaries upon the Apocalypse set forth in St. Ambrose name, writeth thus: This...sometime signifieth Rome, specially which at that time when the Apostle wrote this, did persecute the Church of God. But otherwise it signifieth the whole city of the Devil, that is, the universal corps of the reprobate. Tertullian also taketh it for Rome, thus, Babylon (saith he) in St. John is a figure of the city of Rome, being so great, so proud of the Empire, and the destroyer of the saints. Which is plainly spoken of that city, when it was heathen, the head of the terrene dominion of the world, the persecutor of the Apostles and their successors, the seat of Nero, Domitian, and the like, Christ's special enemies, the sink of idolatry, and false worship of the Pagan gods (Annotations on Chapter 17 of the Apocalypse. The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2004, copyright assigned to VSC Corp. Page 583).

Church of God:

Six attempts to restore the empire of ancient Rome have been attempted with papal sanction. They have come and gone, and are now part of the historical record. The story of the seven revivals (six in the past and one yet future) is also told symbolically in Revelation 17. Here we find pictured another Beast with seven heads and ten horns. This creature is different from that of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13—it is ridden by a woman, symbolizing a religious organization labeled "Mystery, Babylon the Great." In other words, it is a perpetuation of the old Babylonian mystery religion now grown great and powerful. The seven headed creature of Revelation 17 is clearly the Holy Roman Empire, because "The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits" (Revelation 17:9)...

The prophet Daniel identified four successive kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Rome, the "fourth kingdom," was to continue through seven revivals until the return of the Messiah, when the God of heaven will destroy the final revived Roman Empire and set up a kingdom that will endure forever. Since the Roman Empire is the Beast described by John in Revelation 13 and Revelation 17, the "mark" is a brand or mark of the Roman Empire. The "image" of the Beast must be something modeled or patterned after the Roman Empire. (Ogwyn, John H. The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality? LCG Booklet).

What is interesting about the above is that both the Roman Catholic Church and COG teach that the Bible warns against a future Roman Empire. One difference, though, is that Rome has had a lot of private prophecies that state that the resurrection of the future Roman Empire is a good thing (they seem to excuse this by indicating that it will be a later Roman empire that will be a problem or that it will be a Jewish empire-- that latter concept is without biblical support).

An article of related interest may include Do Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Againt Jesus?

Original Similarities in Prophetic Understandings--6000 year plan

Both groups originally believed in a 6000 year plan.

Roman Catholic Church:

Irenaeus wrote:

Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 29, Verse 2. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

A fourth century apologist and Catholic teacher named Lactantius wrote:

But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world, respecting which we will now speak in the end of our work, since we have explained respecting the beginning in the second book. Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodelled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works. But this is the Sabbath-day, which in the language of the Hebrews received its name from the number, whence the seventh is the legitimate and complete number. For there are seven days, by the revolutions of which in order the circles of years are made up; and there are seven stars which do not set, and seven luminaries which are called planets, whose differing and unequal movements are believed to cause the varieties of circumstances and times.

Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says "In Your sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day." And as God laboured during those six days in creating such great works, so His religion and truth must labour during these six thousand years, while wickedness prevails and bears rule. And again, since God, having finished His works, rested the seventh day and blessed it, at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years; and there must be tranquility and rest from the labours which the world now has long endured. But how that will come to pass I will explain in its order. We have often said that lesser things and things of small importance are figures and previous shadowings forth of great things; as this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits. Lactantius. Divine Institutes, Book VII, Of a Happy Life, Chapter 14).

Here is what was written in a book blessed by Pope Paul VI:

...the time of the First Resurrection will end...It is the time when the Seventh Millennium will set in, and will be the day of Sabbath in the plan of creation...It has been the common opinion among Jews, Gentiles, and Latin and Greek Christians, that the present evil world will last no more than 6,000 years...Christians and Jews, from the beginning of Christianity, and before, have taught that 6,000 years after the creation of Adam and Eve, the consummation will occur. The period after the consummation is to be the seventh day of creation--the Sabbath...St. Jerome said, "It is a common belief that the world will last 6,000 years."

...I believe that as the last days come to an end so will the sixth day of creation (Culligan E. The Last World War and the End of Time. The book was blessed by Pope Paul VI, 1966. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 113-115).

The above concept now seems to be condemned by the current Pope Benedict XVI (see the article Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?).

Church of God:

The Bible, early writings, and even Roman Catholic sources confirm that many who professed Christ in the early years taught that God seems to have a 6000 year plan followed by a literal thousand year millennial reign of Christ.

According to the Bible and certain Catholic and Church of God sources, the last days of the 6,000 years for humanity to rule itself are almost over.

Looking at the Bible seems to show that the 6000 years may end near in the 2020s though it may be up to a decade or so past then. Humankind's rule of the planet will end when Jesus returns. Jesus is coming a second time (Hebrews 9:28). Based upon the best chronologies that humans seem to have been able to construct, it appears likely that Jesus may return by the end of the current decade, or perhaps a few years past.

We are living in the end-times. The time just prior to the Great Tribulation, which will be followed by the Day of the Lord and then Christ's return with the establishment of His millennial reign on this earth (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).

There is no verse in the Bible that contradicts the notion that there will is a six thousand year plan of God followed by a one thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. And even early Greco-Roman supporters had the view that there was this plan. (Thiel B. Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? http://www.cogwriter.com/six_thousand_year_plan_6000.htm viewed 09/04/13)

While the COG still believe that there is six thousand years allotted for mankind, the Roman Catholic Church no longer teaches this (some apparently did away with this in the fifth century based upon the writings of Augustine)--though some Catholics as late as the 20th century did believe this (for more information, please see the article Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?).

Original Similarities in Prophetic Understandings--Gospel of the Kingdom

Both groups originally believed in the gospel of the Kingdom of God coming to this earth to usher in the Millennium (the Millennium itself is discussed in a later section).

Roman Catholic Church:

What Catholics commonly call I Clement states:

The Apostles for our sakes...went forth...preaching the gospel that the Kingdom of God was about to come (xlii).

The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. (42:1-3).

The kingdom of God was also a significant part of what is believed to be "the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived" (Holmes M.W. Ancient Christian Sermon. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004). This Ancient Christian Sermon, which Catholic tend to call II Clement contains these statements about it (verse below from Holmes):

5:5 Moreover you know, brothers, that our stay in the world of the flesh is insignificant and transitory, but the promise of Christ is great and marvelous: rest in the coming kingdom and life eternal.

The above statement shows that the kingdom is not now, but will come and be eternal.

Furthermore, this ancient sermon states:

6:9 Now if even such righteous men as these are not able, by means of their own righteous deeds, to save their children, what assurance do we have of entering the kingdom of God if we fail to keep our baptism pure and undefiled? Or who will be our advocate, if we have not been found to have holy and righteous works?

9:6 Therefore let us love one another, that we all may enter into the kingdom of God.

11:7 Therefore, if we no what is right in God's sight, we will enter his kingdom and receive the promises which "ear has not heard nor eye seen nor eye seen nor the heart of man imagined."

12:1 Let us wait, therefore hour by hour for the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of God's appearing.

The above statements show that we still have not entered the kingdom of God, and that it occurs after the day of God's appearing--that is after Jesus' returns again.

This ancient sermon continues with:

12:6 he says, the kingdom of my Father shall come.

The above statement shows that it is the Father's kingdom and it still has to come.

Irenaeus wrote:

For such is the state of those who have believed, since in them continually abides the Holy Spirit, who was given by Him in baptism, and is retained by the receiver, if he walks in truth and holiness and righteousness and patient endurance. For this soul has a resurrection in them that believe, the body receiving the soul again, and along with it, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being raised up and entering into the kingdom of God (Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Chapter 42. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920).

Yet this has somewhat changed. As The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

As men grew to understand the Divinity of Christ they grew to see that the kingdom of God was also that of Christ -- it was here that the faith of the good thief excelled: "Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom." So, too, as men realized that this kingdom stood for a certain tone of mind, and saw that this peculiar spirit was enshrined in the Church, they began to speak of the Church as "the kingdom of God"...

The kingdom of god means, then, the ruling of God in our hearts; it means those principles which separate us off from the kingdom of the world and the devil; it means the benign sway of grace; it means the Church as that Divine institution whereby we may make sure of attaining the spirit of Christ and so when that ultimate kingdom of God Where He reigns without end in "the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:2) (Pope H.T. Transcribed by Chris Boore. Kingdom f God. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Christ during His ministry affirmed not only that the prophecies relating to the Messias were fulfilled in His own person, but also that the expected Messianic kingdom was none other than His Church (Joyce GH. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

I do not agree that Christ taught that the Messianic kingdom was His Church, but this seems to be a change that certain Catholic leaders implemented.

Also, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church seems to suggest is the goal or purpose for humans:

163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. The we shall see God "face to face" (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 50).

Beatific vision...as goal of life (p. 762)

Church of God:

Polycarp wrote:

Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked," we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory ...For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit; " and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God," nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

The Church of God teaches:

CHRIST’S GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM

The Gospel of the Kingdom was the message that Jesus (Mark 1:14; Luke 4:43; Matt 9:35) and His disciples preached (e.g. Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23; 28:30-31; 2 Peter 1:10-11). This “good news” includes teaching of repentance, the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s sacrifice/crucifixion, love and God’s way of life, and of the soon-coming Kingdom and government of God (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 2:2). Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of God must now be preached and it reveals the means by which Christians are to be ruling members of His Kingdom (Matthew 24:14; Acts 8:12; 17:7; 28:30-31; Revelation 2:26-27). “His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (Corinthians 15:23-24).

This “good news” includes the truth that God will ultimately offer salvation to all (Luke 3:6; John 3:16-17; 12:32,47; Isaiah 6:9-11) (What is the Gospel?, The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church, and Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

While both groups originally taught about the gospel of a future kingdom of God, the Roman Catholic Church no longer officially does so. An article of possibly related interest may be The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church. Both groups also seem to have a different purpose for humanity as well.

Original Similarities in Prophetic Understandings--The False Prophet

Both groups have had leaders who felt that the false prophet in Revelation is also the final Antichrist.

Roman Catholic Church:

Hippolytus wrote that the Beast ruled the kingdom of Antichrist, but indicates that the Antichrist is the two-horned beast and possibly also the false prophet:

By the beast, then, coming up out of the earth, he means the kingdom of Antichrist; and by the two horns he means him and the false prophet after him (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist, chapter 49).

Augustine wrote:

We have already said that by the beast is well understood the wicked city. His false prophet is either Antichrist or that image or figment of which we have spoken in the same place...

I see that I must omit many of the statements of the gospels and epistles about this last judgment, that this volume may not become unduly long; but I can on no account omit what the Apostle Paul says, in writing to the Thessalonians, "We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," etc.

No one can doubt that he wrote this of Antichrist and of the day of judgment, which he here calls the day of the Lord, nor that he declared that this day should not come unless he first came who is called the apostate —apostate, to wit, from the Lord God...Some think that the Apostle Paul referred to the Roman empire, and that he was unwilling to use language more explicit (Augustine, The City of God. Book XX, Chapters 14 & 19).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

...many scholars identify Antichrist with the beast which had "two horns, like a lamb" and spoke "as a dragon" (13:11, sqq.)...Many commentators have found more or less clear allusions to Antichrist in the coming of false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:6, 22; Luke 21:8), in the "abomination of desolation", and in the one that "shall come in his own name" (John 5:43).

An approved Catholic prophecy book correctly states:

...the false prophet (the beast of the earth) ( Connor, Edward. Prophecy for Today. Imprimatur + A.J. Willinger, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno; Reprint: Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, p.108).

Church of God:

CCOG teaches:

Now notice the last battle of “the great day of God Almighty.” It is in Rev. 19:19-20. Here is pictured the beast —“and WITH him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, WITH WHICH HE DECEIVED them that had received the MARK of the beast, and them that had worshipped HIS IMAGE.
_____”Note it! Compare with the two-horned beast of Rev.13:11-17.
_____(1) BOTH perform miracles.
_____(2) BOTH perform them before, or in the sight of, the beast.
_____(3) WITH them, BOTH the false prophet and two-horned beast DECEIVE them that have the MARK of the beast — cause them to receive that mark (Rev. 13:16).
_____Certainly, then, this two-horned beast, the false prophet, ...are all one and the same thing — the {final revised} ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH with its pope, its other bishops, its priests and deacons, comprising the hierarchy of order!
_____Now did the two-horned beast deceive the very ones who have the MARK of the beast? He did! Continue in Rev. 13:
_____“And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth” — HOW?“...saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an IMAGE to the beast, which had the wound by the sword and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and CAUSE as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. AND HE CAUSETH ALL, BOTH SMALL AND GREAT,RICH AND POOR, FREE AND BOND, to receive a MARK in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell [trade, earn a living, hold a job], save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (verses 14-17).
_____So, notice: This two-horned beast not only CAUSED people to receive the MARK of the beast (compare Rev. 19:20), but also perpetrated the forming of an image that caused the martyrdom of saints. As many as would not worship this image were caused to he killed. This false church did not kill them — she CAUSED them to he killed. History shows that the civil government of the Roman Empire martyred millions who were declared “anathema from Christ,” or “heretics” by the church.
____(Armstrong HW. Who is the Beast?)

Or to put it more succinctly, the COG teaches that the two-horned beast represents the the false prophet claiming the papacy who will for a while run a final (and revised) large church, while the other beast is the revived Roman Empire (which we normally believe is the going to arise out of the current European Union)...

Perhaps I should add emphasize that the two-horned beast (also known as the false prophet or the final Antichrist) is mainly a religious, not a military leader. (Thiel B. Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 http://www.cogwriter.com/sdawhite.htm viewed 09/04/13)

Many non-Catholics and non-COGr's do not realize that the false prophet is both the two-horned beast and the final Antichrist (see SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666), and is not the ten-horned Beast--but it is nice that many Roman Catholics understand that the COG position has historical support amongst their leaders.

However some other Catholic writers do not seem to understand this (and some of those quotes are in the later section on the Millennium).

Differences in Prophetic Understanding--Roman Empire and Babylon

Roman Catholic Church:

John of Damascus taught:

It should be known that the Antichrist is bound to come...For that he will assume the name of God, the angel teaches Daniel, saying these words, Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers...(John of Damascus. An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 26).

The italic portion above is from Daniel 11:37. This is clearly the same person known as the king of the North in Daniel 11:40.

Abbott Joachim (died 1202) taught:

A remarkable Pope will be seated on the pontifical throne, under special protection of the angels. Holy and full of gentleness, he shall undo all wrong, he shall recover the states of the Church, and reunite the exiled temporal powers. As the only Pastor, he shall reunite the Eastern to the Western Church...This holy Pope shall be both pastor and reformer. Through him the East and West shall be in ever lasting concord. The city of Babylon shall then be the head and guide of the world. Rome, weakened in temporal power, shall forever preserve her spiritual dominion, and shall enjoy great peace...At the beginning, in order to bring these happy results, having need of a powerful assistance, this holy Pontiff will ask the cooperation of the generous monarch of France (Great Monarch). (Cited in Connor, Edward. Prophecy for Today. Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, pp. 31-32).

Pertaining to one of the Catholic saints named Bernard:

"that beast of the Apocalypse, to whom is given a mouth speaking blasphemies, occupies the chair of Peter, as a lion ready for the prey"? whereas it turns out that St. Bernard is not speaking of the Pope, but of the Antipope " (http://www.newmanreader.org/works/essays/volume2/antichrist1.html)

It is now the time for action, because they have destroyed the law. That beast of the Apocalypse, to whom is given a mouth speaking blasphemies, and to make war with the saints, is sitting on the throne of Peter, like a lion ready for his prey. (Bernard, Abbott of Clairvaux. LETTER XXXVII (circa A.D. 1131) To Magister Geoffrey, of Loretto. Cited in GREAT LETTER WRITERS -- S. BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX ii THE COMPLETE WORKS OF S. BERNARD, ABBOT OF CLAIRVAUX TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH FROM THE EDITION OF DOM. JOANNES MABILLON,OF THE BENEDICTINE CONGREGATION OF S. MAUR (PARIS, 1690), AND EDITED BY SAMUEL J. EALES, D.C.L. pp. 138-139. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bernard/letters.i.html)

Here is a private prophecy from a Catholic Saint named Caesar of Arles (6th Century):

When the entire world, and in a special way France, and in France especially the provinces of the north, of the east, and above all that of Lorraine and Champagne, shall have been laid waste by the greatest miseries and trials, then the provinces shall be comforted by a prince who had been exiled in his youth, and who shall recover the crown of the lilies. This prince shall extend his dominion over the total universe.

At the same time, by the will of God, a most holy man shall receive the Papacy, who will be most perfect in every spiritual perfection. This Pope will have with him the great Monarch, a most virtuous man, who shall be an eminent leader of the holy line of French Kings. This great Monarch shall assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth. Many nations and their princes that are living in error and impiety [at that time] shall be converted, and an admirable peace shall reign among men during many years, because the wrath of God shall be appeased through their repentance, penance, and good works. There will be one common law, only one faith, one baptism, one religion... (Birch, DA. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph: Before During and After Antichrist. Queenship Publishing Company, Goleta (CA), 1996, pp.247-248).

Here is a private Catholic prophecy from Monk Adso (10th century):

Some of our Teachers say that a King of the Franks will possess the entire Roman Empire. He will be the greatest and the last of all Monarchs. After having wisely governed his kingdom, he will go in the end to Jerusalem and will lay down his sceptre and his crown upon the Mount of Olives. Immediately afterwards, Antichrist will come. (Dupont Yves. Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1973, p.18).

Here is a private Catholic prophecy from Rudolph Gekner (died 1675):

A great prince of the North with a most powerful army will traverse all Europe, uproot all republics, and exterminate all rebels. His sword moved by Divine power will most valiantly defend the Church of Jesus Christ. He will combat on behalf of the true orthodox faith, and shall subdue to his dominion the Mahometan Empire. A new pastor of the universal church will come from the shore (of Dalmatia) through a celestial prodigy, and in simplicity of heart adorned with the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Peace will come to the world. (Cited in Connor, Edward. Prophecy for Today. Imprimatur + A.J. Willinger, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno; Reprint: Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, p.36).

Some Catholic writers have praise for this "Great Monarch" but others (correctly) warn against him (for details, please see Who is the King of the North?).

Church of God:

Interestingly, even Roman Catholic scholars often teach that the Apostle John's references to Babylon in the Book of Revelation (circa 95 A.D.) are references to Rome. Notice what the commentary in the Rheims' New Testament, the Catholic accepted translation of the Latin Vulgate into English, states:

The author of the Commentaries upon the Apocalypse set forth in St. Ambrose name, writeth thus: This...sometime signifieth Rome, specially which at that time when the Apostle wrote this, did persecute the Church of God. But otherwise it signifieth the whole city of the Devil, that is, the universal corps of the reprobate. Tertullian also taketh it for Rome, thus, Babylon (saith he) in St. John is a figure of the city of Rome, being so great, so proud of the Empire, and the destroyer of the saints. Which is plainly spoken of that city, when it was heathen, the head of the terrene dominion of the world, the persecutor of the Apostles and their successors, the seat of Nero, Domitian, and the like, Christ's special enemies, the sink of idolatry, and false worship of the Pagan gods (Annotations on Chapter 17 of the Apocalypse. The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2004, copyright assigned to VSC Corp. Page 583).

Thus Roman Catholic scholars often realize that it was commonly understood from the earliest times that Apostle John's biblical references to Babylon are referring to Rome. It should probably also be mentioned since "Mystery Babylon" of Revelation 17:9 sits on seven hills/mountains, yet the Babylon of Mesopotamia was on a plain, that obviously, this is a changed location from the Babylon of Old Testament times. The Babylon near the Euphrates was not to arise again according to scripture (Jeremiah 51:64). However, the coming final Babylon is a northern power also referred to as "the daughter of Babylon" in the end times in Jeremiah 50:41-42 and apparently Zechariah 2:6-7, hence it comes from a different geographical location. (Ancient Babylon was NOT a northern power, but end time Babylon is.) Even Catholic writers realize that the "Babylon" Jeremiah speaks of Jeremiah 51 is the "Roman Empire" as opposed to the ancient Babylon (Kurz, p. 49)...

On May 27, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI warned that the world was becoming like ancient Babel (Babylon) and mentioned the Tower of Babel (Pope Discusses Modern ‘Tower of Babel’). Yet, it should be realized that there are Roman and Byzantine Catholic prophecies that look forward to Babel/Babylon being re-established. Notice:

Monk Leontios (died 543): Rejoice, oh most unhappy one, oh New Babylon!...You, who are the New Babylon rejoice now on behalf of Zion! New Babylon, dance, bounce and leap greatly, make known even those in Haydes what a Grace you have received. Because that peace which was yours to enjoy in times past, and which God has deprived you of in course of battles, receive it once more from the hand of an Angel...oh, the City of Seven Hills the dominion will be yours. (Tzima Otto, pp. 82-83).

Abbott Joachim (died 1202)...A remarkable Pope will be seated on the pontifical throne, under special protection of the angels. Holy and full of gentleness, he shall undo all wrong, he shall recover the states of the Church, and reunite the exiled temporal powers. As the only Pastor, he shall reunite the Eastern to the Western Church...This holy Pope shall be both pastor and reformer. Through him the East and West shall be in ever lasting concord. The city of Babylon shall then be the head and guide of the world. Rome, weakened in temporal power, shall forever preserve her spiritual dominion, and shall enjoy great peace…At the beginning, in order to bring these happy results, having need of a powerful assistance, this holy Pontiff will ask the cooperation of the generous monarch of France (Great Monarch). (Connor, pp. 31-32)

Despite the fact that the current Pope seems to warn against certain aspects of Babylon, Europe is trying to become the end time Babylon and the next pontiff (even if he makes some anti-Babylon statements) may be the one who truly supports the final Babylon. The Bible, itself, warns against being part of the new Babylon (Revelation 18:4-5). And it could possibly include a cross as one of its symbols, as ancient Babylon did as well (Hislop A. The Two Babylons. First published as a pamphlet in 1853--greatly expanded in 1858). (Thiel B. Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelationhttp://www.cogwriter.com/europa.htm viewed 09/04/13)

While both the Roman Catholic Church and the COG teach that the Bible warns about a revived Roman Empire called Babylon, the Roman Catholic Church sometimes teaches that a future revival of the Holy Roman Empire--including being called Babylon by one of its prophets--is a good thing, while the COG considers that the future revival that certain Roman Catholics are waiting for is something that the world needs to be warned about!

Actually, it is differences in the prophetic understandings of both groups that will have the most immediate negative effects on humankind in the very near future. If the COG is correct (and the Bible is on the COG's side here), then those that rely more on tradition (the Roman Catholic Church acceptance of non-godly private prophecies and writings of its "Fathers") will be supporting the Beast power that the Bible warns against. This, sadly, will be part of the reason that Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24:24 will be fulfilled:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (KJV).

An article of tremendous related interest may be Catholic Prophecies: Will You Stand By the Truth or Be Deceived? (but it has not yet been completed, check back later please). Many, Catholic prophecies concerning what the one they term "the Great Monarch" are included in the article Who is the King of the North?

Is There Some Type of Millennium?

Leaders of both groups believed in the millennium, but this was later condemned by Roman Catholic leaders.

Roman Catholic Church:

The Catholic Saint Irenaeus wrote:

Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 29, Verse 2. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

And again He says, "Whosoever shall have left lands, or houses, or parents, or brethren, or children because of Me, he shall receive in this world an hundred-fold, and in that to come he shall inherit eternal life." For what are the hundred-fold [rewards] in this word, the entertainments given to the poor, and the suppers for which a return is made? These are [to take place] in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day, which has been sanctified, in which God rested from all the works which He created, which is the true Sabbath of the righteous, which they shall not be engaged in any earthly occupation; but shall have a table at hand prepared for them by God, supplying them with all sorts of dishes (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 33, Verse 2. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

That the whole creation shall, according to God's will, obtain a vast increase, that it may bring forth and sustain fruits such [as we have mentioned], Isaiah declares: "And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every prominent hill, water running everywhere in that day, when many shall perish, when walls shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, seven times that of the day, when He shall heal the anguish of His people, and do away with the pain of His stroke." Now "the pain of the stroke" means that inflicted at the beginning upon disobedient man in Adam, that is, death; which [stroke] the Lord will heal when He raises us from the dead, and restores the inheritance of the fathers, as Isaiah again says: "And thou shall be confident in the LORD, and He will cause thee to pass over the whole earth, and feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father." This is what the Lord declared: "Happy are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down [to meat], and will come forth and serve them. And if He shall come in the evening watch, and find them so, blessed are they, because He shall make them sit down, and minister to them; or if this be in the second, or it be in the third, blessed are they." Again John also says the very same in the Apocalypse: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection." Then, too, Isaiah has declared the time when these events shall occur; he says: "And I said, Lord, how long? Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses be without men, and the earth be left a desert. And after these things the LORD shall remove us men far away (longe nos faciet Deus homines), and those who shall remain shall multiply upon the earth." Then Daniel also says this very thing: "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of those under the heaven, is given to the saints of the Most High God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." And lest the promise named should be understood as referring to this time, it was declared to the prophet: "And come thou, and stand in thy lot at the consummation of the days." Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verses 2-3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

For all these and other words were unquestionably spoken in reference to the resurrection of the just, which takes place after the coming of Antichrist, and the destruction of all nations under his rule; in [the times of] which [resurrection] the righteous shall reign in the earth, waxing stronger by the sight of the Lord: and through Him they shall become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father, and shall enjoy in the kingdom intercourse and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings; and [with respect to] those whom the Lord shall find in the flesh, awaiting Him from heaven, and who have suffered tribulation, as well as escaped the hands of the Wicked one (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 35, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The Catholic Saint Justin Martyr wrote:

But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.

For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years: 'For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, or come into their heart; but they shall find joy and gladness in it, which things I create'...For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, 'The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,' is connected with this subject. And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place (Dialogue. Chapters 80-81).

Notice what Hippolytus, called "the most important theologian and the most prolific religious writer of the Roman Church in the pre-Constantinian era" by The Catholic Encyclopedia, wrote:

And 6, 000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day "on which God rested from all His works." For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they "shall reign with Christ," when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse: for "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years."Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6, 000 years must be fulfilled. (Hippolytus. On the HexaËmeron, Or Six Days' Work. From Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0502.htm verified 9/17/07). Notice therefore that "the most important theologian and the most prolific religious writer of the Roman Church in the pre-Constantinian era" taught the 6,000 year plan followed by a thousand year kingdom that lasts one thousand years.

The Roman Catholic Bishop Ambrose of Milan (a Catholic saint and "doctor of the Church") seemed to understand that there was a future rest that corresponded with the seventh day as he wrote:

The seventh trumpet, then, seems to signify the sabbath of the week, which is reckoned not only in days and years and periods (for which reason the number of the jubilee is sacred), but includes also the seventieth year, when the people returned to Jerusalem, who had remained seventy years in captivity. In hundreds also and in thousands the observation of the sacred number is by no means passed over, for not without a meaning did the Lord say: "I have left the seven thousand men, who have not bent their knees before Baal." Therefore the shadow of the future rest is figured in time in the days, months, and years of this world, and therefore the children of Israel are commanded by Moses, that in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, a rest should be established for all at the "memorial of the trumpets;" and that no servile work should be done, but a sacrifice be offered to God, because that at the end of the week, as it were the sabbath of the world, spiritual and not bodily work is required of us (Ambrose of Milan. Book II. On the Belief in the Resurrection, verse 108).

Augustine once understood the truth of the millennium, but then changed his mind. Notice what he wrote:

The evangelist John has spoken of these two resurrections in the book which is called the Apocalypse...the Apostle John says in the foresaid book, "And I saw an angel come down from heaven. . . . Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Those who, on the strength of this passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessedness of paradise into the woes of this mortal life, so that thus, as it is written, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," there should follow on the completion of six thousand years, as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years; and that it is for this purpose the saints rise, viz., to celebrate this Sabbath. And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion (Augustine. The City of God, Book XX, Chapter 7) .

Since Augustine held this view into the fourth and fifth centuries he also demonstrates that it was an early or original view that the Roman Church later changed.

Do Roman Catholic scholars realize that the apostles and early church leaders believed in a literal one thousand year reign of Christ on the Earth?

Of course they do.

Do they admit it?

Yes, they do.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes,

The fundamental idea of millenarianism, as understood by Christian writers, may be set forth as follows: At the end of time Christ will return in all His splendour to gather together the just, to annihilate hostile powers, and to found a glorious kingdom on earth for the enjoyment of the highest spiritual and material blessings; He Himself will reign as its king, and all the just, including the saints recalled to life, will participate in it...The duration of this glorious reign of Christ and His saints on earth, is frequently given as one thousand years. Hence it is commonly known as the "millennium", while the belief in the future realization of the kingdom is called "millenarianism" (or "chiliasm", from the Greek chilia, scil. ete)...

...a large number of Christians of the post-Apostolic era, particularly in Asia Minor, yielded so far to Jewish apocalyptic as to put a literal meaning into these descriptions of St. John's Apocalypse; the result was that millenarianism spread and gained staunch advocates not only among the heretics but among the Catholic Christians as well...

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a native of Asia Minor, influenced by the companions of St. Polycarp, adopted millenarian ideas, discussing and defending them in his works against the Gnostics (Adv. Haereses, V, 32)...

In the West, the millenarian expectations of a glorious kingdom of Christ and His just, found adherents for a long time. The poet Commodian (Instructiones, 41, 42, 44) as well as Lactantius (Institutiones, VII) proclaim the millennial realm and describe its splendour...

Moreover, the attitude of the Church towards the secular power had undergone a change with closer connection between her and the Roman empire. There is no doubt that this turn of events did much towards weaning the Christians from the old millenarianism (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Millennium and Millenarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Notice that one Pope in the 20th Century blessed a book that stated:

...the time of the First Resurrection will end...It is the time when the Seventh Millennium will set in, and will be the day of Sabbath in the plan of creation...It has been the common opinion among Jews, Gentiles, and Latin and Greek Christians, that the present evil world will last no more than 6,000 years...Christians and Jews, from the beginning of Christianity, and before, have taught that 6,000 years after the creation of Adam and Eve, the consummation will occur. The period after the consummation is to be the seventh day of creation--the Sabbath...St. Jerome said, "It is a common belief that the world will last 6,000 years."

...I believe that as the last days come to an end so will the sixth day of creation (Culligan E. The Last World War and the End of Time. The book was blessed by Pope Paul VI, 1966. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 113-115).

Yet the above view is strongly condemned by the Roman Catholic Church! Notice the following:

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

Why?

The current pope wrote in a paper titled The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure prior to becoming Pope Benedict XVI:

"...both Chiliasm [the teaching of the Millennium] and Montanism were declared heretical and were excluded from the universal church; for they both denied this vision [the "Christ is the end of the ages" vision] and awaited still another period of more definitive salvation to follow after the age of Christ" (as cited in Birch, pp. 515-516; note the comments within [] were from the Catholic writer Birch).

This is an odd statement. It was the leaders in Asia Minor who stood for the Millennium and were the first to oppose Montanism--whom the Roman Catholics originally tolerated (please see section later in this article called Early Heretics; also this is mentioned in the article Location of the Early Church)--hence the belief in one is NOT necessarily related to the other.

And while the old Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the idea of millenarianism was abandoned once the Catholic Church had good relations with the Roman Empire, Pope Benedict claims that the reason to teach against millenarianism is that it shows that God has a plan of salvation beyond this age. This is thus a major difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of God.

Perhaps it needs to be emphasized that the apparent view of the Roman Catholic Church (which I intend to document clearly in a later version of this article) is that all who happen to be alive at some time in the future when there is a Great Monarch who accompanied by a certain Pope will convert the world and nearly the whole world will be Catholic. And while that type of "universal salvation" is interesting, those "saved" then combined with those who the Catholics teach were saved while alive earlier or in purgatory still only amounts to less than probably 30% of all humans to ever lived.

Thus Catholic theology seems to condemn the vast majority of humans who ever lived to some type of eternal torment (though they do this to less than many Protestants theologians seem to condemn)--this view is quite different than the view of the COG which is that all who ever lived will be offered salvation--either in this life or an age to come--and that the vast majority of humans will accept this offer for salvation and hence we tend to believe that probably 99.99% of all who ever lived will be saved (please see the articles Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis and Hope of Salvation: How the Church of God differs from most Protestants).

The Bible teaches God is love (I John 4:8,16). Since God is all knowing and a God of love, surely God has a plan that will result in most being saved and not most being doomed to eternal torment!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests that the millennial teaching is a doctrine of Antichrist. This was not a belief originally held by early Roman Catholic recognized leaders/saints. Thus, many who now consider themselves Roman Catholic will apparently not believe the teachings of Jesus' final two witnesses, who will be killed by a major power (Revelation 11:4-7)--and will most certainly be teaching about the soon coming millennium.

Notice some Catholic writings which appear directed towards the true two witnesses:

Nun Anne Catherine Emmerich (October 1, 1822) "...Two men live at this time who long to ruin the Church...The two enemies of the Church...are firmly resolved to destroy the pious and learned men that stand in their way" (Schmoger Carl E. The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, Volume 2. Approbation: Bishop of Limbourgh Peter Joseph. TAN Books, reprint 1976, p.298).

Jeanne le Royer (Sister of the Nativity). "One day the Lord said to me: 'A few years before the coming of my enemy, Satan will raise up false prophets who will announce Antichrist as the true Messiah' " (Dupont, p.57).

St. Vincent Ferr (15th century)...And when the false prophet, the precursor of Antichrist, comes, all who are not confirmed will apostatize, while those who are confirmed will stand fast in their faith, and only a few will renounce Christ." (Dupont, pp. 29-30)

Catholic writer Desmond Birch "The "False Prophet" arrives - - the Precursor of Antichrist. He will "ape" the role that John the Baptist performed in preparing the people to for the arrival of the Messiah" (Birch, DA. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph: Before During and After Antichrist. Queenship Publishing Company, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. 556).

I suspect people like the final pope (who may be an antipope) are considered to be "pius and learned men" according to A.C. Emmerich's words.

It is important to understand that according to the Bible, the false prophet is NOT and cannot be a precursor of the final antichrist (please see the article Doctrines of Antichrist), hence those later Catholic interpretations appear to be in conflict with scripture. The reality is that the millennium will be a teaching of the two witnesses who will preach during the time of Antichrist and just prior to the millennial reign of Christ.

Church of God:

In the early second century, Papias, who was a hearer of John and a friend of Polycarp (and is considered to have been a saint by Roman Catholics), in the second century, also taught about the millennial reign. One early source taught this about Papias:

It may also be worth while to add to the statements of Papias already given...Amongst these he says that there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth (Fragments of Papias, VI).

Papias taught that it would be a time of great abundance:

In like manner, [He said] that a grain of wheat would produce ten thousand ears, and that every ear would have ten thousand grains, and every grain would yield ten pounds of clear, pure, fine flour; and that apples, and seeds, and grass would produce in similar proportions; and that all animals, feeding then only on the productions of the earth, would become peaceable and harmonious, and be in perfect subjection to man." [Testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him...] (Fragments of Papias, IV).

Chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation clearly teaches that there will be a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

The Church of God still holds the biblical and historical view of the Millennium. Here is LCG's official position on the matter:

Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians...

The Sabbath also helps picture the millennial reign of Jesus (Hebrews 4:1-4; 2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 20:4-6).

The Bible teaches that this millennial kingdom will be wonderful (Isaiah 2; 9; 11:1-10; 35:1-9;  Ezekiel 34:21-29, Micah 4:1-4; Acts 3:19-21) and that the saints will then reign with Jesus (Revelation 20:4-6).   Satan the devil will be banished during this time (Revelation 20:1-6), and it is a time of rest and abundance. (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, accessed 09/04/13)

Thus both groups admit that the belief in millenarianism was held by the early church. It was apparently abandoned by Catholic leaders when they decided to interpret certain clear prophetic passages allegorically (an article of related interest may be What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?) and when there was an improved arrangement between the Roman Church and the Roman Empire. Now a view that the early church held is condemned because it shows that God has a plan to offer salvation past the current Church Age.

But the Bible does show that God has such a plan. Two articles of related interest may include Did The Early Church Millenarianism? and Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

Actually, I suspect that the millennial hope and the hope of future salvation as opposed to the concept that salvation is only offered in this age (and through the Roman Church) will be one of the defining differences between the two witnesses and combined the Beast/Antichrist power during the 3 1/2 years that the two witnesses have been given the power from God.

Early Leaders in the Church of God

Although we in the Church of God do not view the following list the same way that those in the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches view their published "apostolic succession" lists (we believe that we are the spiritual descendants of the apostles and this is not dependent upon a bishop to bishop transfer, but a true holding of teachings in a little flock--Luke 12:32--that never completely died out--but that some type of physical connection did occur), the following list (which mainly has dates based upon Roman Catholic accepted sources) gives a listing of apparently faithful leaders of the church from the first through third centuries. The dates listed are when they died, not the entire time they were leaders:

Peter/Paul/James through death circa 64-68 (mainly oversaw churches from Asia Minor and Jerusalem, though Paul was imprisoned in Rome)
John through death circa 95-100
(oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor)
Papias through death circa 135-145
(oversaw churches from Hierapolis, Polycarp was also in Smyrna during that same time)
Polycarp through death circa 155-156
(oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor)
Thraseas through death circa 160
(oversaw the churches from Eumenia, but died in Smyrna)
Sagaris through death circa 166-167
(died in Laodicea of Asia Minor)
Papirius through death circa 170
(oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor)
Melito through death circa 177-180
(oversaw churches from Sardis of Asia Minor)
* Polycrates through death circa 200
(oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor)
*Apollonius of Ephesus through death circa 210 (oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor).
*Camerius of Smyrna through death circa 220 (possibly oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor).

* Note: History concerning Apollonius is not totally clear, but indications are that he was most likely in the true church (the 210 date came from The Catholic Encyclopedia). There is basically no information about Camerius of Smyrna, other than he is listed as bishop of Smyrna in sources like The Catholic Encyclopedia and the questionable book The Life of Polycarp. After Polycrates and Apollonius, the official history (with Eusebius the main writer) says almost nothing about the true church in Ephesus, though a compromised church from there develops importance in the fourth century. Around 250 Eudaemon of Smyrna apostatized under the persecution of Decius--around that time there was a major separation of those who professed Christ (Socrates Scholasticus. Church History, Book V, Chapter 19)--and this, combined with selective reporting of history (and the destruction of documents) is probably why we can no longer identify COG leaders by name after the first part of the third century.

Both the COG and the Roman Catholic Church accept perhaps all of these people as leaders in the true Church of God in Asia Minor. If one actually reads and properly understands what the above leaders wrote/taught, they would see that the teachings of these leaders are much, much closer to the teachings of the COG than the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, there is an 'alternate' listing of leaders in a spiritual succession from the apostles that most people are unfamiliar with (many of the beliefs, as well as more information on the true second/third/fourth century church can be found in the article The Smyrna Church Era).

It should be noted that the idea that what became known as Roman/Orthodox/Traditional Christianity gaining prominence by the second/third century is not simply a view held by those in Church of God, but is held by a variety of theologians and historians.

Here is some of what Bart Ehrman has written:

...traditional Christianity...is the form of Christianity that began to thrive at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth centuries (Ehrman B. From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity. The Teaching Company, Chantilly (VA), 2004, p. 28).

Thus, what is considered to be traditional Christianity developed in the third and fourth centuries, NOT in the early second century. That is why those who are in the real COG are considered to practice apostolic, not "traditional" or mainstream, Christianity.

Does the Roman Catholic Church Prove that It is Now in Error?

One major problem that the Roman Catholic Church has is that several of its positions box it into a corner and show that it cannot be the continuance of the true Church that began on the Day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts. And a lot of that has to do with its positions on saints, as well as its doctrinal changes. So a a few of them will be briefly discussed here.

The Truth Does Not Change

Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia and a Catholic Cardinal claimed:

As the Divinely appointed teacher of revealed truth, the Church is infallible...The Church therefore is infallible in matters both of faith and morals...(Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Her creed is now identical with what it was in past ages. The same Gospel of Peace that Jesus preached on the Mount; the same doctrine that St. Peter preached at Antioch...St. Paul in Ephesus..No new dogma unknown to the Apostles not contained in the primitive Christian revelation can be admitted. (John xiv 26; xi 15; xvi 13.) For the Apostles received the whole deposit of God’s word, according to the promise of the Lord: (Gibbons J., Cardinal. The faith of our fathers: being a plain exposition and vindication of the church founded by Our Lord Jesus Chris, 83rd reprint edition. P. J. Kenedy, 1917. Original from Pennsylvania State University, Digitized Oct 14, 2009, p. 9)

How can this be true of the current Roman Catholic Church as it clearly has changed many doctrines? The truth does not change.

The official Roman Church has condemned as heretical the view that Passover should be kept on the 14th even though it admits that Polycarp and the majority in Asia Minor (including Ephesus) kept it the way that they had learned from the Apostles John and Philip.

The official Roman Church has condemned as heretical the view that there will be some type of millennium even though the Bible, Melito, and many it calls saints held that view.

Regarding morals, Roman Bishop Callistus as well as certain other Popes condoned abortion (see Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman's Right to Choose). The COG never has. The Roman Church even accepted a renumbering of the ten commandments, which I also believe results in a change of faith and morals.

One young Catholic told me that the Roman Catholic Church has never changed any doctrine made ex-Cathedra. And while that is questionable, let me simply state that this is another box that the Catholics put themselves into. There is not one statement made by any claimed Bishop of Rome beginning with Linus (Peter's true successor according to current Catholic teaching) for at least a century or so that could truly be called ex-Cathedra.

Why?

Well, there is simply no record of any claimed bishop of Rome even saying anything (the comments from the letter erroneously called I Clement came from a group in Rome and calls itself only "our advice") until Anicetus (c. 155 A.D.) and his few statements are not even truly quotes--nor would any Catholic consider them to have been made ex-Cathedra.

So what is the box? The box is that since there were no early pronouncements that could be classified as ex-Cathedra, the Roman Church either has to accept that it changed the teachings that many of its early claimed "saints" and "fathers" held (from hence they claim to have gotten most of their traditions) or that those people were not true to Catholicism.

The official Roman Church cannot have it both ways.

It either does have the faith of the apostles as recorded in the Bible and early church writings or it does not. And the reality is that it has changed many, many, doctrines and moral teachings throughout history (only a relative few are included in this article) and simply does not hold to the teachings of the apostles in many matters.

The documented truth is that official Roman Church has changed many doctrines that the original apostles held. Doctrines that the Church of God still holds and teaches. The Church of God still has that same apostolic faith.

The truth does not change.

Justin Martyr

Since the Roman Catholic Church claims Justin Martyr as a saint as well as the one who first described the type of liturgical church service that the Roman Catholic Church has, it would be logical that it accept Justin's position on idolatry, but it does not. Here is some of what Justin wrote on that subject:

And neither do we honour with many sacrifices and garlands of flowers such deities as men have formed and set in shrines and called gods; since we see that these are soulless and dead, and have not the form of God (for we do not consider that God has such a form as some say that they imitate to His honour), but have the names and forms of those wicked demons which have appeared. For why need we tell you who already know, into what forms the craftsmen, carving and cutting, casting and hammering, fashion the materials? And often out of vessels of dishonour, by merely changing the form, and making an image of the requisite shape, they make what they call a god; which we consider not only senseless, but to be even insulting to God, who, having ineffable glory and form, thus gets His name attached to things that are corruptible, and require constant service" (Justin. The First Apology. Chapter IX). 

What sober-minded man, then, will not acknowledge that we are not atheists, worshipping as we do the Maker of this universe, and declaring, as we have been taught, that He has no need of streams of blood and libations and incense; whom we praise to the utmost of our power by the exercise of prayer and thanksgiving for all things wherewith we are supplied (Justin. The First Apology. Chapter XIII).

Note that Justin denounced idols, shrines, and incense and also understand that the Roman Catholic Church embraces all of them. Hence the Roman Catholic Church are not faithful to that portion of Justin's teaching.

Thus it was not until eight centuries after the Church began that all the Catholic and Orthodox Churches accepted idols/icons/images. Therefore, it is inconceivable that this could have been the position of the original New Testament Church (it is also inconceivable because the last living of the original Apostles, John, warned against idols in his last writings).

Furthermore, Justin also taught,

For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

While those in the COG would agree that souls die (Ezekiel 18:4) and are not taken to heaven upon death (Job:14:14; John 3:13), those in the Roman Catholic Church would seem to disagree with Justin here. Justin is clearly stating that those who believe that souls are taken to heaven when they die are not Christians. Therefore, it is surprising that any in the Roman Catholic Church would consider Justin to be a saint, since he teaches that none of them can be.

Polycarp and Passover

The Roman Catholic Church claims Polycarp as a faithful saint (as shown earlier) and the successor to the Apostles.

But its position on Polycarp causes the Roman Catholic Church a major problem.

Why?

Because like those in the COG, Polycarp kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan and refused to accept the position of the then Bishop of Rome to change it to a Sunday to honor the resurrection. Yet, the Roman Catholic Church endorses Easter Sunday--a position that the early church in Asia refused to accept (as Polycrates previous testimony shows).

This is even more amazing because the New Testament clearly states, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast" (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). And that Christ specifically taught, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15). Christ also taught how it was to be kept by Christians (Luke 22:19-21).

And Paul did as well,

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

It is important to note that this occurred AT NIGHT. That NIGHT was the Passover (Luke 22:15). And that the Christian PASSOVER ceremony was to be kept in remembrance of Christ (Luke 22:19-21; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). There was nothing in the New Testament that enjoins the celebration of the resurrection, nor anything to suggest that the Passover be changed from the 14th of Nisan to some Easter Sunday morning.

Anyway, Polycarp (whom the Orthodox and Catholics consider to be a saint) refused to go along with the change of the date of Passover. This was continued by Melito (another saint according to the Orthodox and Catholic religions) and Polycrates, who also continued to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Yet, as the Catholic Epiphanius wrote in the mid-4th Century,

...the emperor...convened a council of 318 bishops...in the city of Nicea...They passed certain ecclesiastical canons at the council besides, and at the same time decreed in regard to the Passover that there must be one unanimous concord on the celebration of God's holy and supremely excellent day. For it was variously observed by people...(Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section VI, Verses 1,1 and 1,3. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp.471-472).

In other words, until the Council of Nicea, there were those that would not accept that Passover should be changed to Sunday. Also it is important to note that the Council knew that PASSOVER was "God's holy and supremely excellent day". Yet, this same Council apparently, and improperly, endorsed a Sunday Passover to be a time to celebrate the resurrection, and not the death, of Christ, in complete defiance to the scriptures as well as to how the early Church kept it.

Incomplete Catholic View of History

In a publication put out by a Catholic priest was the following view of history:

How Old Is Your Church?
IF YOU ARE a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Catholic Church, in the year 1517. IF YOU belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to re-marry. IF YOU ARE a Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in the year 1560. IF YOU ARE a Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an offshoot of the Church of England founded by Samuel Seabury in the American colonies in the 17th century. IF YOU ARE a Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582. IF YOU ARE a Methodist, your religion was launched by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744. IF YOU ARE a Unitarian, Theophilus Lindley founded your church in London in 1774. IF YOU ARE a Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, NY, in 1829. IF YOU ARE a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1605. IF YOU ARE of the Dutch Reformed church, you recognize Michaelis Jones as founder, because he originated your religion in New York in 1628. IF YOU worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865. IF YOU ARE a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy as its founder. IF YOU belong to one of the religious organizations known as "Church of the Nazarene", "Pentecostal Gospel", "Holiness Church", "Pilgrim Holiness Church", "Jehovah's Witnesses", your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past fifty years. IF YOU ARE Roman Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ the Son of God, and it is still the same Church. (How Old Is Your Church? Fatima Crusader, 21. Nov-Dec 1986, p. 30)

The implication of the above is that all groups outside of Rome (and presumably the Eastern Orthodox) are new and hence not the original church. The problem is that while it is true that the modern Protestants did not exist from the beginning (though Unitarians and some of the others existed before the dates in the above article), it is not true that Roman Catholic Church is the same Church as the one that Jesus founded as is had changed many doctrines as this article clearly documents.

And it should be remembered that, despite changes of location and name, the true Church of God has existed from the Day of Pentecost in circa 31 A.D. And it still has the original doctrines and practices that Jesus and His disciples established for His Church, and now is best represented by the Continuing Church of God.

Concluding Thoughts

There are hundreds of similarities and dissimilarities between these groups that this article has not covered. But many of the ones covered are significant.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church belief that there is hope for those who died that are babies or are not saints or incorrigibly wicked, has some biblical basis, whereas the Continuing Church of God position has a stronger biblical (and more original) basis.

What appears to have happened is that, in the second and later centuries, many in Rome were affected by the non-biblical ideas of heretics and others, while those in the true church were among those that did not accept those doctrines and even protested those heretics.

The fact that the Council of Nicea declared Sunday to be the day of worship, instead of the seventh day Sabbath AND declared that Passover was to be observed on a Sunday and not on Nisan 14 as Polycarp and Polycrates declared they learned from the Apostles and the Gospel (see Eusebius' Church History) forced those who were faithful to the Gospel and those particular teachings to distance themselves from what became the predominant Church.

Looking at the relatively few doctrines that this paper has covered has shown that Catholic approved writings about the early church demonstrate that:

  1. The true church has the original apostolic faith.
  2. The original name of the church was, and still includes the phrase, "Church of God"
  3. The true church descended through the apostles, not just one of them.
  4. John was a faithful apostle.
  5. Polycarp of Smyrna was a faithful successor to the apostles.
  6. The Church of God in Smyrna handed down the truth.
  7. Various saints and those in Asia Minor kept the seventh-day Sabbath.
  8. Christians were to have no permanent city.
  9. Early clergy wore normal clothes.
  10. Private auricular confession was not part of the original faith.
  11. The early clergy were not celibate
  12. The ten commandments were kept and were in the same order as the Church of God still observes them.
  13. God has a plan to save more than are in the Church of Rome--and this is supported by hundreds of verses in the Bible.
  14. Souls do not go to heaven upon death.
  15. Baptism was originally by immersion.
  16. Melito was faithful, but did not consider the deuterocanonical books part of the Old Testament Canon.
  17. Idols of all types were taught against.
  18. Mary was called blessed, but not adored and did not have extreme prominence. For details and a lot of other Catholic prophecies, check out the book Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions.
  19. Lent was not observed by the early Church.
  20. Easter contained pagan elements and was not observed by those in Asia Minor.
  21. The millennium was taught by those the Roman Catholic Church calls saints--though many within it condemn the millennial teaching now.
  22. Passover on the 14th of Nisan was observed by those that the Roman Catholic Church calls saints--though observing Passover then it has since condemned.
  23. The Father and the Son were called God by even early Catholic Saints.
  24. Until the fourth century, the majority in Asia Minor did not accept that the Holy Spirit was separate co-equal part of the Godhead.
  25. It was the leadership in second century Asia Minor that first denounced heretics such as Marcion, Valentinus, and Montanus even though they were long tolerated by the Church of Rome.
  26. Prayers for the souls of the dead were not done by the early church.
  27. Unclean animals were not eaten by early true Christians.
  28. Christians did not willingly participate in military service.
  29. Christmas was not observed.
  30. The "deutero-canonical books" were questioned and not accepted as fully equal.
  31. The entire Bible, including the New Testament canon, was understood as complete.
  32. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was preached.
  33. God has a 6,000 year plan, followed by a 1,000 year time of peace. And that view was endorsed as late as 1966 by Pope Paul VI.
  34. There were a lot of Roman Catholic acknowledged leaders/saints in the second century church that held Church of God views and did not accept the authority of the leadership of the Church of Rome.

While the above are shown to be true in Roman Catholic-approved writings for the early true church, only those the real Churches of God still have all those views and practices. This is one of the reasons that the Continuing Church of God is NOT Protestant--Protestants do not have most of the same practices nor beliefs that the early true church had (nor do they have a history that clearly shows that Protestants could be the true church).

We in the Church of God trace our history from the Book of Acts to present through the Churches of Revelation 2 &3, can document our actual early history better than any other church (including the Protestant Denominations, Baptists/Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, and yes, the Roman Catholic Church), did not (and do not) support Martin Luther, and can document that many of our current beliefs are be found in the preserved writings of the first few centuries after the death of Jesus. But most importantly, we can also document all of our doctrines from the Bible (we also do not believe that Martin Luther really believed in Sola scriptura, please see the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).

The fact that the Roman Catholic Church considers that it is the Church of Rome, while the COG believes it is represented by the Seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 is such a fundamental difference that is accounts for many of the differences between these two groups who claim to represent the True Church. Recall that the Bible uses the expression "church of God" twelve times (in either singular or plural form) as the name of the church and never uses the term "Catholic" for its name (though it certainly can have a descriptive application).

The Roman Catholic Church suggest that they are the true church because they claim successions of bishops from Rome from the time of the apostles to present--but even their scholars freely admit that history shows this did not happen at first (though some, like the current pontiff, state succession is a matter of faith or tradition). Catholic scholars do not seem to understand that the Book of Revelation shows that there would be a succession of churches in different locations.

Paul's quoted statement from Hebrews 13:14 shows that it would not be possible that the headquarters of the true church could permanently remain in any one city for hundreds of years. Only only a church whose headquarters moved relatively often could possibly be the true church. And that is consistent with the messages in Revelation 2 & 3. Hence this would seem to rule out the Roman Catholic Church as the true successor as it claims to have been in the same city (Rome, though some of the pontiffs were in Lyon) for nearly two thousand years (plus the Roman Catholic Church has no proof of their claims for their earliest bishops--this and more information can be found in the article Apostolic Succession).

However, it is amazing to this writer that the two groups agree so much about what the true Church originally understood. While the Roman Catholic Church has accepted later "traditions", we in COG claim that we are the only ones that are truly orthodox as we accepted no known actual heresy.

Catholics may be surprised to read what two of their scholars (Will and Ariel Durant) wrote about Catholic Christianity:

Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world (Durant W and A. The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ, a history of Roman civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325 Volume 3 of The Story of Civilization. Simon and Schuster, 1935 Original from the University of Virginia Digitized Apr 10, 2008, p. 595).

This should give Catholics pause to think. It appears that the Durants are stating that Catholicism is essentially a pagan creation--where I would suggest it was more of a series of compromises with non-biblical practices.

It seems apparent that those who decided that Rome should be looked at as the place of leadership, separated from those who placed more confidence in the teachings from the Bible that had been passed down from Christ to the apostles, through Polycarp and Melito, and those that remained faithful to those teachings (please see the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome).

Sadly, those who choose to become Roman Catholics (as those who remain so today) simply do not practice the faith the same way as Polycarp, Melito, or a variety of early leaders that the Roman Catholic Church still consider to have been faithful saints.

Thus, perhaps the main difference between the COG and Roman Catholic Church is that the Roman Catholic Church changed its beliefs over time, while those in the true church often had to flee for their lives because of the governmental interpretation of those changes (e.g. Emperor Constantine specifically decreed death for those that did not accept parts of the First Council's outcome, see Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1, Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, p.157; and Emperor Theodosius decreed death for those who kept Passover on biblical date of the 14th, see Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788). Another major difference is that the Roman Church essentially believes that while salvation will be offered to more towards the end of the Church Age, the Church of God believes that all will be offered salvation, either in this age or in ages to come (please see the article Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

The Church of God has remained faithful to the Bible for its teachings. Jesus made it clear that His disciples would abide, not change, His word:

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:30-32)

Do you want to follow the truth? Do you want to affiliate with the church that has always abided in Christ's word without significant doctrinal changes?

And while the Continuing Church of God believes that early traditions can have some value, it simply does not believe that tradition from any source is proper authority to contradict the teachings of the Holy Book. But the Catholics of Rome seem to believe that relying on the traditions and teachings of the early "fathers" insures that they have not changed apostolic Christianity. However, since the Roman Church does not agree with some of of the traditions and teachings of its earliest "Fathers" nor the Bible itself, then it truly is not the church that did not change.

If you consider yourself Roman Catholic, you may wish ask yourself if you should be relying on the Bible or Tradition (please read that article as it explains about both).

Which would the true God most expect of His true followers?

Remember that the Apostle Paul taught:

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV).

And Jesus taught,

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:22).

Thiel B. Ph.D. Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? www.cogwriter.com (c) 2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013 0907 edition

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