Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic leaders did not all hold to current teachings about the Holy Spirit

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Pope Liberius, Bishop of Rome
Liberius, Bishop of Rome from 352-366 A.D.

COGwriter

While the Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants like to act like every “Christian” long believed in the trinity, (even though that doctrine was not finalized for them until a council in 381 A.D.), the truth is that even the primary leaders of the Romans and Greeks denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit as late as the mid-4th century.

The Cathecism of the Catholic Church admits the doctrine was not finalized until 381:

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).

At least one Protestant trinitarian scholar has admitted some facts about the Holy Spirit as well as the 381 date:

The language of the New Testament permits the Holy Spirit to be understood as an impersonal force or influence more readily than it does the Son…The attempt to develop an understanding of the Holy Spirit consistent with the trinitarian passages…came to fruition at Constantinople in 381. (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 140).

And an Orthodox scholar teaches that its church from 381 onwards accepted the personhood/divinity of the Holy Spirit:

Since the Council of Constantinople (381), which condemned the Pneumatomachians (“fighters against the Spirit”), no one in the Orthodox East has ever denied that the Spirit is not only a “gift” but also the giver–i.e., that he is the third Person of the holy Trinity” (Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren. Basic Doctrines: Holy Spirit. http://www.kosovo.com/doctrine1.html#Holy%20Spirit 8/20/05).

But what is also interesting is that many, if not most, in the mid-4th century (including the Patriarch of the Orthodox and the “Pope” of the Roman Catholics”) considered denying the divinity of the Holy Spirit to be sound doctrinally!

Did you know that?

Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia states,

Semiarians and Semiarianism
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 (Chapman J. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Semiarians and Semiarianism. 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).

Towards the middle of the fourth century, Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, and, after him a number of Semi-Arians, while apparently admitting the Divinity of the Word, denied that of the Holy Ghost (Forget J. Transcribed by W.S. French, Jr. Holy Ghost. 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 expression “the East” refers to the area also known as Asia Minor. It was always at least as important as Rome among those that professed Christ for the previous centuries (as well as for many later centuries)–and notice that MOST of those living there WERE Semi-Arian–including Macedonius, who is in the list of successors of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (the primary “see”, if you will, within the Eastern Orthodox faith). But the Orthodox (who like to claim that theirs is the original church and that it did not change) do not seem to realize that their leaders and members WERE NOT trinitarian until the late 4th century.

Although later Roman Catholic writers have had many definitions of those that they called Pneumatomachi or “Semi-Arians” (most of which disagree with the Church of God position), one that somewhat defines the view held in the early church would possibly be this one written by 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).

According to The Catholic Encylopedia, at least one 4th century Pope acknowledged soundness of the faith of the Pneumatomachi:

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>)

So, it should be abundantly clear that until the latter part of the 4th century, many (if not most) who professed Christ in Asia Minor and even Rome held to some type of a binitarian view and at least one Pope (Liberius) and one Patriarch (Macedonius) accepted that as sound. Have you been taught this before?

Here is more on “Pope” Liberius (the bishops of Rome did not actually take the title “Pope” until about 30 years after Liberius). It is also recorded:

Liberius (352-366)…the signing of a document that contained a formulation very close to the Arian thesis…he was criticized by many (Athanasius, Hilary of Poiters, Jerome) who saw this submission as a weakness due to fear of death (Lopes A. Translation by Charles Nopar. The Popes. Pontifical Administration, Rome, 1997, p. 12).

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).

So, it seems that while later Catholics believe that Liberius was pressured to appear to be Semi-Arian from imperial forces, that perhaps he was simply persuaded (or perhaps even was always Semi-Arian). Would a true “apostolic successor” hold a position that is now condemned by his own church as heresy?

If not, then Liberius (as only one such example) disproves the notion of an unbroken succession of bishops from Peter–hence Liberius is one more example of why the Catholics truly do not have apostolic succession (Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, also is another that disproves the Orthodox claim to succession–there were other Orthodox “Patriarchs’ who held similar views).

But the fact is that at least one bishop of Rome (Liberius), one bishop of Constantinople (Macedonius), and many other 4th century Greco-Roman bishops were still, at least partially, Semi-Arian–that is, they denied that the Holy Spirit was the third divine person in a trinity.

While those in the actual Church of God do believe in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), we do not believe that the Holy Spirit is the third divine person in a trinity as a council in 381 declared.

Even trinitarian scholars understand that the Holy Spirit is not biblically shown to be clearly a person. Notice the following written by a modern Orthodox scholar:

Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians agree in recognizing a certain anonymity characterizes the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. While the names Father and Son denote very clear personal distinctions, are in no sense interchangeable, and cannot in any case refer to the common nature of the two hypostases, the name Holy Spirit does not have that advantage. Indeed, we say that God is Spirit, meaning by that the common nature as much as any one of the persons. We say that he is holy…Taken in itself, the term Holy Spirit thus might be applied, not to a personal distinction…In that sense, Thomas Aquinas was right in saying that…the name Holy Spirit has been given to him…we find an image of the economy of the Third Person rather than an image of his hypostatic character: we find the procession of a divine force or spirit which accomplishes sanctification. We reach a paradoxical conclusions: all that we know about the Holy Spirit refers to his economy; all that we do not know makes us venerate him as a person (Clendenin D.B. ed. Eastern Orthodox Theology, 2nd ed. Baker Academic, 2003, pp. 165-166).

The above is quite an astounding admission! The main trinitarian groups admit that the Holy Spirit is simply a procession of a divine force and that it is venerated as a person based upon what scripture does not say.

Did you know all of this? If not, perhaps you had better look into this further.

Articles of related interest may include:

Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus is God, But Was Made Man Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what?
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

What kind of songs did early Christians sing?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The Hymnal of the Continuing Church of God Consists Mainly of Psalms and Biblical Passages Set to Music

COGwriter

Having attended both Roman Catholic and Protestant church services while growing up, one of the things I noticed that was different about the true Church of God was the type of hymns that were sung.

While Catholics and Protestants tended to sing songs that had religious messages, the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) mainly sung hymns which were extracted from the Psalms in the Bible. Most of those of us in groups with ties to the old WCG still do.

And while we have been criticized for that (see Praises to Jesus Christ or Biblical Hymns: Which Should Christians Primarily Sing?), the fact is that the practice of the Churches of God appear to be the same as those of the earliest professors of Christ.

The Book of James teaches:

Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms (James 5:13).

The Apostle Paul noted:

Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm (1 Corinthians 14:26).

The noted historian K.S. Latourette observed:

From a very early date, perhaps from the beginning, Christians employed in their services the psalms found in the Jewish Scriptures, the Christian Old Testament. Since the first Christians were predominantly Greek-speaking, these psalms were in a Greek translation. We hear of at least one form of service in which, after the reading from the Old Testament, the “hymns of David” were sung…Until the end of the fourth century, in the services of the Catholic Church only the Old Testament Psalms and the hymns or canticles from the New Testament were sung…Gradually there were prepared versical paraphrases (Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, pp. 206,207).

Because of fears of gnostic influence, Christians did not add outside poetic phrases or non-biblical lyrics until well after the second century (Ibid).

On the Roman date of 7 March 203, Tertullian records that while being prepared for martyrdom:

Perpetua sang psalms (Tertullian. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Here is a quote from a fourth century publication known as the Apostolic Constitutions :

Be not careless of yourselves, neither deprive your Saviour of His own members, neither divide His body nor disperse His members, neither prefer the occasions of this life to the word of God; but assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord’s house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day. And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead (Apostolic Constitutions (Book II, Chapter LIX). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Isn’t this astounding? Even in the Church that was ruled by Rome, psalms were mainly sang on the Sabbath. This is most likely due to the continuance of the practice that the early (before Rome increased its influence) church had.

It appears likely that the Sunday practice of singing songs of praise to God ultimately led to the practice of shifting the primacy of psalm singing to praises towards Jesus in what we now consider to be the Protestant world (as they got Sunday from the Romans). A 21st century book on early biblical and church practices states:

Modern New Testament scholarship is studying extensively the early church in its relationship to Judaism. It is certainly without question that Judaism is Christianity’s mother religion…

The Book of Psalms, as the temple hymnbook, continued to be used in Jewish congregations as well as Christian congregations (Roberts T. From Sacral Kingship to Sacred Marriage: A Theological Analysis of Literary Borrowing. Vantage Press. New York, 2003, pp.138-139).

Hence evidence does support the idea that psalms were the main types of hymns that the early Christians sang on the Sabbath (as that is when the early Christians, did in fact meet–Sunday worship is not alluded to in any historical literature prior to the 2nd Century–and the first clear mention of Sunday worship was by Justin Martyr: A Saint, Heretic or Apostate?).

The songbook of the Continuing Church of God (as well as the old Worldwide Church of God) is almost exclusively English-translations of the Book of Psalms and other parts of the Bible set to music. The actual hymnal (called The Bible Hymnal) used by the Continuing Church of God consists of all the songs that were part of the 1974 edition of ‘The Bible Hymnal’ used by the old Worldwide Church of God, plus ten other hymns that Herbert Armstrong approved that were written by Ross Jutsum. The songs in this book are essentially the Psalms and other passages in the Bible set to music.

In non-English speaking areas, Church of God congregations basically sing the same hymns translated into other languages such as Spanish, Kiswahili, Dholuo, Ekegusii, French, German, etc.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Praises to Jesus Christ or Biblical Hymns: Which Should Christians Primarily Sing? This biblical article on music is in response to an advertisement critical of WCG’s 1974 The Bible Hymnal. It also address early church practices here.
Overview: How Does the Church of God Agree and Disagree with Other Faiths Professing Christ? This overview answers that and explains what the Church of God basically stands for. In the appendices provides information about certain complaints and as well as an overview about many COG-related groups.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Continuing History of the Church of God This free pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The Bible Hymnal via Amazon. This is the paperback edition of the hymnal used by the Continuing Church of God. It consists of all the songs that were part of the 1974 edition of ‘The Bible Hymnal’ used by the old Worldwide Church of God, plus ten other hymns that Herbert Armstrong approved that were written by Ross Jutsum. The songs in this book are essentially the Psalms and other passages in the Bible set to music. Amazon sells The Bible Hymnal for $8.99.

Original Church of God Building and Roman One in Jerusalem

Monday, October 20th, 2014


Hagia Sion (left) and Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Wall (right)
Mosaic (4th century) in Church of Santa Pudenziana, Rome

COGwriter

The late fourth century historian Epiphanius recorded that in Jerusalem in Judea a Christian building was mentioned existing no later that by 135 A.D. Epiphanius wrote the following (a portion of which I have bolded for clarity):

{Hadrian} found the temple of God trodden down and the whole city devastated save for a few houses and the church of God, which was small…it had been built, that is, in that portion of Zion which escaped destruction, together with blocks of houses in the neighborhood of Zion and the seven synagogues which alone remained standing in Zion, like solitary huts, one of which remained until the time of Maximona the bishop and Constantine the king. (The Epiphanius of Salamis, Weights and Measures, chapter 14. (1935), pp.11-83. English translation transcribed by Roger Pearse. www.tertullian.org viewed 01/03/13)

That building may have been the first Christian building.

The “church of God” Epiphanius mentioned is believed to have been the building which has sometimes been called the Cenacle. It was located on a Jerusalem western hill that is often called Mt. Zion/Sion (there is some controversy associated with the actual biblical Mount Zion).

In the fourth century, the sun-god worshiping Emperor Constantine had a rounded building built next to it, which is known as the Hagia Sion.

In 333 the Bordeaux pilgrim found there a basilica erected “by order of Constantine”. By then the holy place had passed from the hands of the Judaeo-Christians, who had held it until then, to those Gentile Christians. (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini, 1 Februari 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 26 Februari 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 61)

The “holy place” mentioned above had been the general location of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill, which could have been the original worship building that Christians built. This is the place that has been called Sion and the Cenacle. The Greco-Romans eventually added a shrine and a variety of relics (Ibid, pp. 27-28,69).

Although they did not have cameras back then, a representation of of both buildings still exists. A mosaic of Jerusalem at the time was constructed and placed in a church in Rome known as Santa Pudenziana. My wife and I visited in in June 2013 and she photographed the mosaic of Jerusalem in its main apse (I hope to see what remains of these buildings in Jerusalem next week).

A wall of the building still remains above ground, and various foundational stones below ground (it was on the front cover of the first Bible News Prophecy magazine).

Though some feel otherwise, since Christians are ‘the temple of God’ in the New Testament, there is not biblical requirement that a Jewish temple must be rebuilt before the millennium begins.

The Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill, was a Christian building constructed shortly after 70 A.D. and was composed, to a great degree, of stones/bricks from the previous Jewish temple. It is possible that it will play a role in end time prophecy (see Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications?) as there is a chance the man of sin (the Beast of Revelation 13 and King of the North of Daniel 11) may sit in it (Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? Although people like Timothy LaHaye teach a third Jewish temple is required, who is ‘the temple of God” in the New Testament? Does the Bible require a rebuilt Jewish Temple?
Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building?
Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? After a 20 year negotiation, the Church of Rome has negotiated the right to have Catholic mass in the building known as the Cenacle. It is in the area where the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill once stood. This is believed to be the location of the earliest Christian church building. How does the Bible define the ‘temple of God’ in the New Testament? Could this be the area where the ‘man of sin’ will sit in the “temple of God’ that Bible prophecy discusses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? This is a YouTube video.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity?
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a version in Mandarin: 主编: 谁是’大罪人’?Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.

Halloween’s origins are not Christian

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Halloween in Ireland

COGwriter

Many will be observing “Halloween” in about two weeks. Many consider that it is a holiday appropriate for “Christians.”

One article at the mislabeled Christianity Today starts out with the statement, “I love Halloween” (Mendenhall D. A Halloween Solution. Christianity Today, October 31, 2005. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/novemberweb-only/13.0.html).

But the origins of today’s Halloween are not biblical.

Do Halloween and Christianity belong together?

Halloween is an old English word which means ” hallowed evening.” It is the night before the Roman Catholic holiday that they claim to have adopted from the Eastern Orthodox now called All Saints Day (which in Mexico is celebrated as “the Day of the Dead”). Part of the public Catholic rationale for All Saints Day is that they have so many saints they wish to honor that they decided to lump all those without a specific day into this one. While some Catholics support Halloween, others oppose it.

Origins

It is believed that Halloween contains many of the remnants of an autumn holiday celebrated by the Druids called Samhain (apparently pronounced “sah-van” though some say SAH win or SOW in–and apparently meaning “summers end”). There historically have been pagan figures with names that are similar to this. For example, there was a Celtic hero named Samain or Sawan who supposedly owned a magical cow. In other pagan religions, there was Samana (“the leveler”) the name of an Aryan God of Death (a.k.a. Yama, Sradhadeva, Antaka, or Kritanta) according to the ancient Veda scriptures of Hinduism and Shamash was the Sun God of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Some of the idea for modern costumes came via France.

Essentially, the timing of Halloween seems to be related to certain movements of the sun. Notice the following:

Halloween is date of astronomical interest. It has to do with seasons: Halloween is a cross-quarter date, approximately midway between an equinox and a solstice. There are four cross-quarter dates throughout the year, and each is a minor holiday: Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd), May Day (May 1st), Lammas Day (Aug. 1st), and Halloween (Oct. 31st).

“Long ago, the Celts of the British Isles used cross-quarter days to mark the beginnings of seasons. Winter began with Halloween, or as they called it, Samhain,” says John Mosley of the Griffith Observatory.

“Halloween marked the transition between summer and winter, light and dark — and life and death. On that one night, according to folklore, those who had died during the previous year returned for a final visit to their former homes. People set out food and lit fires to aid them on their journey — but remained on guard for mischief the spirits might do.” (Spooky Astronomy. http://spaceweather.com/ present 10/31/07).

Notice that in Asia, versions of this day, somewhat like the Celts and the pre-Hispanic Mexicans, it is celebrated near the first of August:

Japan has its own Halloween-type celebration known as “O-bon,” an old Buddhist holiday meant to honor ancestors. It takes place in mid-August or July. Graves are visited and cleaned, food offerings are made, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide spirits, and a ritualized dance called “bon-odori” takes place to welcome them. On the last day of O-bon, to guide spirits on their journey, the Japanese partake in a ceremony called “Toro nagashi,” in which paper lanterns are floated down a river.

O-bon originates from the Chinese Buddhist celebration of “Ullambana,” which has the same notion that during this time, spirits are able to move among us.

The Ullambana Sutra, a traditionally Indian story, is the scripture that addresses this day, with the story of Mahamaudgalyayana, a disciple of Buddha, whose mother had been reborn into a lower realm. Though interpretations of the story vary, Buddha’s instructions to his student mirror modern practices of the day, which is to offer food and pray for the souls of both living and dead relatives. People also would give donations to monks.

The current celebration in Taiwan and China of the Ghost Festival pays homage to this Buddhist holiday, but includes the practices of burning money, clothes and goods, which are believed to then make it to the spirit world in full, as well as the release of paper boats and lanterns into rivers (Meaning, sanctity of Halloween is lost in translation St. Cloud Times, MN – Oct 21, 2007 http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071021/OPINION/110210041/1006/NEWS01).

Hence, the foundations of Halloween are not only Western, and certainly not of Christian origin.

Satan has successfully gotten many of his holidays endorsed by many cultures and religions of the world.

Druids and Bone Fires

Growing up I was familiar with bonfires, and simply thought that they were warm and provided light. But later I learned that there origins were related to Halloween.

Notice that:

The Druids, and order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out to harm people. They thought the cat was sacred and believed that cats had once been human beings but were changed for punishment for their evil deeds. From these Druid beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween festivities…The custom of using leaves, pumpkins, and corn stalks as Halloween decorations comes from the Druids. The early peoples of Europe also had a festival similar to the Druid holiday…In the 700s, the Roman Catholic Church named November 1 as All Saints’ Day. The old pagan customs and the Christian feast day were combined into the Halloween festival [Halloween. World Book, vol 9. Chicago, 1966: 25-26].

The origins of Halloween specifically can be traced back to the ancient Celts (who lived in what is now known as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern France) and their Druid priests. The end of October commemerated their festival of the waning year…Druids believed that during this season spirits walked, and evil held power over the souls of men. On October 31, their New Year’s Eve, great bonfires were kindled, which were thought to simulate the sun to procure blessings for the entire succeeding year. The fires remained burning as a means to frighten away evil spirits. The Druids held these early Halloween celebrations in honor of Samhain, also known as Lord of the Dead, whose festival fell on November 1. There bonfires, or “bone fires”, were also used in animal and human sacrifice–thus the name. The tradition of lighting a bonfire has continued to modern times (Coulter F.R. Occult Holiday–or–God’s Holy Days–Which? York Publishing Company, Hollister (CA) 2006).

bonfire…late M.E. bone fire, i.e. a fire with bones for fuel (Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. Gramercy Books, New York. 1989, p. 168).

Growing up, no one I knew ever mentioned that bonfires originally were bone fires.

Jack-O-Lanterns

The origin of jack-o-lanterns is somewhat amusing.

The Irish have a story that a man named Jack died who was too much of a miser to be with God and was not allowed to be with the devil since he had played practical jokes on him. Since Jack had nowhere to go, he was to walk the earth carrying a lantern until Judgment Day.

The Bible

In Leviticus chapter 23, it lists

“The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts” (vs.2).

All Saints’ Day is not listed as one of them. All Saints’ Day is not a biblically enjoined feast day for Christians (there is not any hint of it in the Bible; it may even be warned against in Deut 4:15-24). Actually the Bible warns against worshipping God the way the pagans, etc. did (Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 12:31, Jeremiah 10:2-3).

The Bible repeatedly warns against the practices of witches (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10, Galatians 5:20) and dealing with ghosts/etc. (Deuteronomy 18:11, I Chronicles 10:13).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
International ‘Halloween’: Should Christians observe Halloween? There are many cultures that have celebrations and observances that are similar to some associated with Halloween. What did the Druids do? Is Halloween one of the most important holidays for Satanists? Do the Japanese, Indians, and Chinese have any practices that are similar to some associated with Halloween? Does the Bible endorse or condemn practices that are associated with Halloween? This is a video.
All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day When did “All Saints Day” and the “Day of the Dead” begin? “What about All Soul’s Day”?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

Did Ignatius wrote for or against the true Sabbath?

Friday, October 17th, 2014

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

Since Jesus and the Apostles kept the Sabbaths and the Holy Days, why do most who profess Christ not observe them? Many claim that Ignatius of Antioch had a writing that showed that the Sabbath was done away by the early second century. This misinformation is all over the internet.  Actually, because the Living Church of God continued to knowingly publish and distribute incorrect information about this, I concluded it was not doing the work of God in truth.

As it turns out, the Catholics of Rome consider October 17th as the day to honor Ignatius of Antioch. And based upon intentional mistranslations of one of his writings (and many renowned Protestant scholars have participated in this), many falsely claim that he showed that the Sabbath was done away.

Yet, that is not true.

Without going in to the mistranslated portion of his writings (which I do in detail in the article Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath), let’s look at some of Ignatius’ other writings. Notice something that he wrote in his Letter to the Magnesians:

It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment.

The commandment that involves meeting together is the fourth commandment. It is the commandment that says to:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

Part of the way the Sabbath day is kept holy is by meeting together for church services (referred to as “an holy convocation” in Leviticus 23:1-3). There is no direct statement anywhere in the Bible requiring a weekly convocation on Sunday. In his Letter to the Romans, Ignatius observed that true Christians kept the commandments:

I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments…

But if any one preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him. For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men. Flee therefore the wicked devices and snares of the prince of this world, lest at any time being conquered by his artifices, ye grow weak in your love.

Notice that Ignatius is once again complaining about Judaic customs that are not from the Bible. How do we know that the practices that Ignatius is referring to are not from the Bible? Because Ignatius is clearly saying to avoid snares from “the prince of the world”. The prince Ignatius is referring to is Satan (see Ephesians 2:2), and since the Sabbath did not come from Satan, as it came from God (see Genesis 2:1-3), Ignatius would not refer to something that God made as wicked. Furthermore, notice that Ignatius mentioned about keeping “every one of His commandments”, thus this is not simply an admonition to love, but to keep all the commandments. In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius wrote about false Christians:

But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact,] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me. Some ignorantly deny Him, or rather have been denied by Him, being the advocates of death rather than of the truth. These persons neither have the prophets persuaded, nor the law of Moses, nor the Gospel even to this day, nor the sufferings we have individually endured. For they think also the same thing regarding us.

Since he writes that some of the false Christians do not have “the law of Moses” it is reasonable to conclude that Ignatius believed that he did have the “law of Moses,” in regards to the ten commandments, including the Sabbath commandment. It may be of at least of passing interest to note that Ignatius referred to the church as the “church of God” four times in his writings (see Letter to the Philadelphians 0:0, 10:1; Letter to the Trallians 2:2; Letter to the Smyrnaeans 0:0).

Ignatius did not do away with the seventh-day Sabbath nor write that it had been somehow do away.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers
This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable?
Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?
This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?
Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity
Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath
Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal? Are mistranslations of these early writings relied on for false doctrinal positions?

Were Faithful Christians Nazarenes?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce a sermon which is at its ContinuingCOG channel.

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Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?

The Apostle Paul was called the ‘ringleader of a sect called the Nazarenes.’ Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today?

Here is another link to the sermon: Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?

Some items of related interest may include the following:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes. This documented article has answers to these questions and more.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?

Bishop of Rome Callistus: Not one of good repute

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

COGwriter

October 14th is observed as the feast day for the Bishop of Rome named Callistus. There is a church built on top over a pagan temple in Rome that is dedicated to him, which my wife and I have visited.

Catholics would generally be surprised to hear that Callistus was the first Bishop of Rome to openly allow abortion and that he generally lowered standards during his ‘reign’ in Rome.

In circa 217 A.D., Callistus became bishop of Rome and somehow succeeded Zephyrinus. After he did, as the Roman Catholic saint Hippolytus reports, Callistus lowered standards and many who professed Christ liked that:

Callistus…a man cunning in wickedness, and subtle where deceit was concerned, (and) who was impelled by restless ambition to mount the episcopal throne. Now this man moulded to his purpose Zephyrinus, an ignorant and illiterate individual, and one unskilled in ecclesiastical definitions. And inasmuch as Zephyrinus was accessible to bribes, and covetous, Callistus, by luring him through presents, and by illicit demands, was enabled to seduce him into whatever course of action he pleased. And so it was that Callistus succeeded in inducing Zephyrinus to create continually disturbances among the brethren, while he himself took care subsequently, by knavish words, to attach both factions in good-will to himself. (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VI)

The impostor Callistus … And the hearers of Callistus being delighted with his tenets, continue with him, thus mocking both themselves as well as many others, and crowds of these dupes stream together into his school. Wherefore also his pupils are multiplied, and they plume themselves upon the crowds (attending the school) for the sake of pleasures which Christ did not permit. But in contempt of Him, they place restraint on the commission of no sin, alleging that they pardon those who acquiesce (in Callistus’ opinions). For even also he permitted females, if they were unwedded, and burned with passion at an age at all events unbecoming, or if they were not disposed to overturn their own dignity through a legal marriage, that they might have whomsoever they would choose as a bedfellow, whether a slave or free, and that a woman, though not legally married, might consider such a companion as a husband. Whence women, reputed believers, began 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. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VII)

Notice that Callistus’ allowance of biblically condemned sin led to an increase in Roman Church attendance, and that Callistus allowed (or at least permited) abortion and adultery. Callistus apparently thus caused many pagans to become part of the Church of Rome.

Note what The Catholic Encyclopedia admitted this about Callistus:

Callistus…Our chief knowledge of this pope is from his bitter enemies…He obtained great influence over the ignorant, illiterate, and grasping Zephyrinus by bribes. We are not told how it came about that the runaway slave (now free by Roman law from his master, who had lost his rights when Callistus was condemned to penal servitude to the State) became archdeacon and then pope

Again Callistus…permitted noble ladies to marry low persons and slaves, which by the Roman law was forbidden; he had thus given occasion for infanticide. (Chapman , Pope Callistus I)

A book sold at the Vatican included the following information:

Zephyrinus was…not exceptionally learned or cultured…

CALLISTUS, ST. (217-222)…He was born in Rome…After a tumultuous and certainly not edifying life which saw him imprisoned and exiled for common crimes…{he was} chosen by Zephyrinus as his private secretary…

Hippolytus, was…elected with the support of some bishops and presbyters, …thus became the first anti-pope…

Callistus…before his death became reconciled with the Church…(Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, pp. 5-6)

Obviously it appears that the corrupt Callistus attempted to buy the office from Zephyrinus (where his money came from has not been determined, but may have had something to do with his role related to the catacombs). And since he was trying to buy an ecclesiastical office, he violated the warning from the Apostle Peter against Simon Magus first who tried to buy the gift of God for money:

20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:20-23).

Yet Callistus (and the bribe-taking Zephyrinus) is listed as part of the claimed apostolic successors of this same Peter according to the Church of Rome.

Were not Zephyrinus and Callistus heretics and apostates? Should one who allowed abortion/infanticide and apparently bribed his way into his office be considered a true Christian? Or instead should not those in Asia Minor who condemned Marcion’s lawlessness be considered as true apostolic successors?

For his trinitarian views, Callistus was denounced as a heretic:

Callistus corroborated the heresy of these Noetians, but we have already carefully explained the details of his life. And Callistus himself produced likewise a heresy, and derived its starting-points from these Noetians,–namely, so far as he acknowledges that there is one Father and God, viz., the Creator of the universe, and that this (God) is spoken of, and called by the name of Son, yet that in substance He is one Spirit. For Spirit, as the Deity, is, he says, not any being different from the Logos, or the Logos from the Deity; therefore this one person, (according to Callistus,) is divided nominally, but substantially not so. He supposes this one Logos to be God, and affirms that there was in the ease of the Word an incarnation. And he is disposed (to maintain), that He who was seen in the flesh and was crucified is Son, but that the Father it is who dwells in Him. Callistus thus at one time branches off into the opinion of Noetus, but at another into that of Theodotus, and holds no sure doctrine. These, then, are the opinions of Callistus (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book X, Chapter XXIII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

It should be noted that Hippolytus and others must have considered the above trinitarian position of Callistus still a heresy in the early third century.

Even though Hippolytus is considered to be a saint by the Church of Rome, and even “was the most important theologian and the most prolific religious writer of the Roman Church in the pre-Constantinian era”(Kirsch, Johann Peter. St. Hippolytus of Rome. 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. 12 Jun. 2009 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07360c.htm. 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), it would seem that because Hippolytus clearly held to more of a binitarian view of the Godhead (Callistus considered him to be a Ditheist), the Roman Catholic Church decided, at some point after it became trinitarian, to claim apostolic succession through Callistus instead of Hippolytus.

Hippolytus was the first to be labeled as an “antipope” because he and his followers refused to accept that Callistus could morally have apostolic succession. Unlike Callistus (who some claim was elected, but may not have been), Hippolytus was actually elected “Bishop of Rome” right after Zephyrinus’ death (Kirsch. St. Hippolytus of Rome). But because of Callistus’ ‘liberal’ views, many chose to follow Zephyrinus’ archdeacon Callistus instead of Hippolytus. If the Roman Church truly had apostolic succession how could they trace their church through the bride taking Zephyrinus and the abortion allowing Callistus than Hippolytus?

Those who associate with the Church of Rome should ask themselves if Hippolytus was elected as the Bishop of Rome in the 3rd century and Callistus was considered a corrupt “imposter” who somehow wrestled control, would it not make sense from a Roman Catholic perspective that it was Callistus who should be considered the first antipope and not Hippolytus?

Yet, most of those associated with Rome tend to ignore this.

What is even stranger is that the Roman Catholic Church currently claims that it never allowed abortion (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2271, p. 606) and the first/second century book called the Didache clearly condemned abortions and infanticide (Didache, 2:1-3. In Holmes, p. 253), yet at least two of its important theologians (one in each of the 3rd and 20th centuries respectively) reported that Callistus did allow abortion/infanticide. It is also reported that other pontiffs, such as Gregory XIII and Gregory XIV, also allowed abortion (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 2000, p.p 374-375). Apparently it seems that since Callistus’ view of the Godhead was less binitarian than Hippolytus, an individual who committed simony (attempting to buy a church office) and who condoned abortion/infanticide and immortality (Callistus) was more acceptable to Rome as an “apostolic successor.”

Notice also what the Bible teaches about those who are to be presiding elders/bishops:

1Here is a saying that you can rely on: to want to be a presiding elder is to desire a noble task.

2 That is why the presiding elder must have an impeccable character. Husband of one wife, he must be temperate, discreet and courteous, hospitable and a good teacher;

3 not a heavy drinker, nor hot-tempered, but gentle and peaceable, not avaricious,

4 a man who manages his own household well and brings his children up to obey him and be well-behaved:

5 how can any man who does not understand how to manage his own household take care of the Church of God?

6 He should not be a new convert, in case pride should turn his head and he incur the same condemnation as the devil.

7 It is also necessary that he be held in good repute by outsiders, so that he never falls into disrepute and into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:1-8, New Jerusalem Bible)

Callistus was not qualified, even according a Catholic translation of the Bible.

Because of Callistus’ decrees and actions, Tertullian, after he discontinued any fellowship with the Roman Church himself, sarcastically dubbed him “our good pontifex maximus” (Tertullian. De Pudicitia, Chapter 1, verse 10. Unfinished English translation by Gösta Claesson, 1950-1980. http://www.tertullian.org/articles/claesson_pudicitia_translation.htm viewed 12/10/07)a title not then assumed by the bishops of Rome, but a title that the pagan Roman emperors had signifying that they were the bridge between humans and the gods.

But, obviously, from a biblical perspective, much of what Callistus did and allowed was not good.

It appears that many scholars (including Catholic ones) tend to understand that Callistus really did not have apostolic standards and often promoted doctrinal positions contrary to those taught by the original Apostles or held by the original Christians. I do not believe that Callistus was a saint, a true successor of Peter, or even a genuine Christian.

His day should not be celebrated, but instead should remind everyone that the apostolic succession that the Greco-Roman faiths tend to claim to have, really do include individuals who held doctrinal positions in opposition to sacred scripture and those held by the original Apostles.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include the following:

Callistus (217-222) He is the first bishop known to have been a criminal prior to his election. He was also accused of a variety of corrupt acts, including allowing indulgences and infanticide (abortion).
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman’s Right to Choose Do you know what the Bible teaches on this? Has the Roman Catholic Church allowed abortions? What about the Continuing Church of God?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes. Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

The Feast of Tabernacles in the 1990s

Monday, October 13th, 2014

COGwriter

Since many who are readers of this page at this time are not at a Feast of Tabernacles’ site now (and it is going on now), I thought a series on the sites we attended might be of interest.  This is the second in this series.

In 1990, our family went on the Mediterranean cruise for the Feast of Tabernacles. Over one thousand attended. This cruise began in Venice, Italy, went to Greece, and to several of the churches of Revelation 2 & 3. This was the first time we had visited any of those Churches, and since my wife and I have visited them all.

Here are photos of Venice, the cruise ship, many there, and the isthmus of Corinth:

Venice Grand Canal Ship used for the 1990 Feast Cruise

Poeple who attended the Cruise Cruise Ship Going to Isthmus of Corinth

Additional photos at or related to that 1990 Feast are included in Joyce’s Photos of Corinth, Joyce’s Photos of Ephesus, Joyce’s Photos of Pergamos, and Joyce’s Photos of Smyrna.

In 1991, we went to Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Over 1,000 (perhaps 2,000 or more) attended. Below is a picture of Victoria Harbor and the children’s choir at the Feast:

Victoria, B.C. Harbor, Canada Children's Choir in Victoria, B.C.

In 1992 was our first trip to the Caribbean and we went to the Bahamas. Over 500 attended. Below is the children’s choir, as well as the view from our hotel room of the tip of Paradise Island:

Children's Choir in the Bahamas Tip of Paradise Island, Bahamas

In 1993, we went to Eastbourne, England for the Feast of Tabernacles. Around 1500 attended that year. Below is a picture of Eastbourne, as well as a castle not too far from the city:

Eastbourne, England Castle near Eastbourne, England

In 1994, we went to Eugene, Oregon for the Feast of Tabernacles. Over 1000 seemed to be in attendance. While there we visited 3-4 places of historical interest to the old Worldwide Church of God (some photos of two of those are included in the articles 6. The Philadelphia Church Era and The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians?)–what struck me was that no one other than us was ever at any of those places. This was our last year at a Worldwide Church of God feast site. The first picture is a welcome to Oregon, while the second is near Florence Oregon:

Welcome to Oregon Dune Buggy near Florence Oregon, 1994

In 1995, we attended our first Feast of Tabernacles site outside the Worldwide Church of God. The Global Church of God site we attended was in Del Mar, California. Around 700 were in attendance. It is near San Diego. The first picture is in Del Mar, while the second is of San Diego:

Del Mar GCG Feast San Diego 1995

In 1996, we attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Penang, Malaysia. About 70 attended. We were one of only 2 American families there. This was the first feast site I spoke at (I gave two sermonettes).

Penang Attendees at Penang Malaysia Feast Site, 1996

In 1997, we attended the feast in Hengelhoef, Belgium. Several hundred were in attendance.

Hengelhoef Sign 1997 Belgium 1997

In 1998, we attended the feast in Branson, Missouri. At this site, Dr. Meredith and I became better acquainted, which helped when the Global Church of God crisis erupted the next month. The second picture is from a place called “the Holy Land” and is a short drive away in Arkansas:

Branson Sign Ten Commandments in Holy Land, Arkansas

In 1999, we attended the feast in Anchorage, Alaska. This was the first time my wife or I ever attended the same feast site more than once. However, it was different than the previous time (1982) and there was a significant reduction in the sizes of the glaciers I remembered from the prior visit.

Musk Ox, 1999 Glacier, 1999

Up until the late the 1990s, the old WCG had over 100 feast sites pretty much every year, and thus we tended to have a lot of choices about where to attend.

It might be of interest to remind people that leaders that Christians consider to be saints such as the Apostle Paul and Polycarp of Smyrna kept the Feast of Tabernacles.

If you did not get to an actual site this year, perhaps you can view Feast of Tabernacles’ related sermons which are at the following link: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2014.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Should you keep God’s Holy Days or pagan holidays? A brief summary article about God’s Holy Days and holidays that others keep.
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Should you keep the Fall Holy Days?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? A related sermon video would be The Trumpet Release.
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? A sermon of related interest may be Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law The Bible teaches that every seven years that the law should be read at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is what I did at the first Feast site were I gave an actual sermon (as opposed to a sermonette) in 2006.
Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2014 This is information on the expected Feast of Tabernacles’ sites for the Continuing Church of God for 2014. The Feast in 2014 begins the evening of October 8th.
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

Modern and older history and the writings of the Apostle John

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

COGwriter

The Apostle John wrote what is known as the fourth gospel as well as three letters and the Book of Revelation. Some realize this, though some do not wish to believe this:

The Huffington Post and other publications have explored two new books relating to the person of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of John. Both books dismiss the possibility that the Apostle John actually wrote the Fourth Gospel or that Jesus of Nazareth is accurately portrayed in its contents. These are not innovative assertions. Both new books follow old lines of scholarship and skepticism that reject the divine claims of Christ, the historicity of his miracles, and the active theism that permeates the New Testament record. But many others scholars — the ones less often interviewed in the media — hold a valid countering view: Both internally and externally there is strong evidence the Apostle John was behind the writing of the Fourth Gospel and that he composed his account with the accuracy of an eyewitness and the pen of a brilliant thinker.
Though the first two centuries of Christianity were years of persecution and dispersion, wreaking havoc on record keeping, we have clear indications the early Christians were confident of the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. For example, John had a disciple named Polycarp (AD 69-155), a young man who heard the apostle’s sermons in Ephesus, absorbed his teaching and became a bishop and martyr in nearby Smyrna. Polycarp had a follower named Irenaeus (AD 130-200), who became Bishop of Lyons and who wrote: “John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned on him, himself also published the Gospel in Ephesus, when he was living in Asia.” Thus we have a direct chain of early evidence and personal testimony linking John to Polycarp to Irenaeus and avowing John’s authorship of the Fourth Gospel.
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We additionally have the writings of Theophilus of Antioch, who died in AD 181. Quoting word-for-word from John 1:1, Theophilus said: “And hence the holy writings teach us, and all the spirit-bearing men, one of whom, John, says, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’”
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Then there’s the Muratorian Fragment, an early list of New Testament books giving short accounts of the origin and contents of the canonical books. According to this document, the author of the Fourth Gospel was the apostle John.
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Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215), an educator in Egypt, made a similar assertion: “But that John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the [first three] Gospels, was urged on by his disciples, and divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.” In other words, after the other three Gospels appeared, John was urged by friends to write an account explaining the theological and spiritual aspects of the person of Christ.
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Moreover we have the record of Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260-340), the “Father of Church History,” who had access to early documents some of which are now lost to us, and who lived in Palestine where the Gospel events took place. He wrote that after the outbreak of persecution in Jerusalem the apostles were scattered across the world, and John went to modern-day Turkey and lived in the city of Ephesus. According to Eusebius, there was no debate about the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. Eusebius said: “Now let me indicate the undisputed writings of this apostle (John). His Gospel, read by all the churches under heaven, must be recognized first of all.” According to Eusebuis, John lived in Ephesus, read the synoptic Gospels, welcomed them and affirmed their accuracy; but wanting to make some additional points, he composed his account.
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Even in Roman times amid growing pains and persecution, we have testimony from Europe (Lyons), the Middle East (Caesarea), Africa (Alexandria), and Asia (Antioch), all attesting to the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. Biblical scholar William Hendrickson said: “Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and Theophilus show us that in the last quarter of the second century the Fourth Gospel was known and read throughout Christendom: in Africa, Asia Minor, Italy, Gaul, and Syria, and that it was ascribed to the well-known John.”
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We also have an interesting discovery now exhibited at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England, called the Ryland Fragment. It was excavated about a hundred years ago, just as scholars were convinced the Fourth Gospel couldn’t have been written in the first century, its philosophy and theology being so developed. This small scrap of papyrus was found in Egypt and dated to the time of Hadrian, perhaps about AD 125. It contained lines from John 18, which demonstrates the Gospel of John was in wide circulation with copies being read in Egypt on papyri within a few years of John’s death. Since John is widely accepted as the last of the four Gospels, this discovery supports the conclusion all four Gospels were first century documents that spread across the Roman world within a generation.
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If any other ancient text were affirmed by this kind of evidence, its authorship would be virtually unquestioned. What if these early witnesses had better understanding of the authorship of the Fourth Gospel than today’s well-meaning writers whose agendas are sometimes influenced by anti-supernatural presuppositions? I have no hesitation accepting the view that the Apostle John wrote this book, and in fact, I can’t imagine anyone else who could have done it. Admittedly, Christianity doesn’t stand or fall on the precise identity of the author of the Fourth Gospel — the author identifies himself only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” But it does stand or fall on the identity of Jesus Christ, and on whether he was a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or the person John presents him to be — the Lord of all.
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Letting John be John and Jesus be Jesus is a solution that leaves me intellectually satisfied and spiritual enriched. As John said near the end of his Gospel: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Here is some of what Theophilus of Antioch reported about John and his writings:

And hence the holy writings teach us, and all the spirit-bearing [inspired] men, one of whom, John, says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” showing that at first God was alone, and the Word in Him. Then he says, “The Word was God; all things came into existence through Him; and apart from Him not one thing came into existence.” The Word, then, being God, and being naturally produced from God, whenever the Father of the universe wills, He sends Him to any place; and He, coming, is both heard and seen, being sent by Him, and is found in a place (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book II, Chapter XII. 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).

Eusebius reported that in the late second century Polycrates of Ephesus wrote the Bishop of Rome Victor stating:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. 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; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? 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, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man’…I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus” (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 25).

There is also another document that was discovered a few decades ago that ties the Apostle John in with Polycarp of Smyrna. It is known as the Harris Fragments. Here is some of what it says:

Polycarp…He was… {an} old man, being one hundred and f[our] of age. He continued to walk [i]n the canons which he had learned from his youth from John the a[p]ostle.(Weidman, Frederick W. Polycarp and John: The Harris Fragments and Their Challenge to Literary Traditions. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame (IL), 1999, pp. 43,44).

The canons that Polycarp learned from the Apostle John would have included knowledge of the Apostle John’s writings.

John, his writings, and his teachings were known.  The world would be a better place if more people followed them.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Apostle John He wrote a lot that people should study.  John was an original apostle, early Christian leader, and the last of the original apostles to die. He is the final original apostle that we in the Continuing Church of God trace our ecclesiastical succession through.
The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings, that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
The New Testament Canon – From the Bible and History This article, shows from the Bible and supporting historical sources, why the early Church knew which books were part of the Bible and which ones were not.
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading. Here is a link in Mandarin Chinese: 读圣经
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible? Some have claimed that Matthew 28:19 has added words as part of a trinitarian plot. Is that true?
What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood? What do the writings of the Bible, Origen, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Augustine show?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

The Feast of Tabernacles in the 1970s and 1980s

Friday, October 10th, 2014

COGwriter

The Churches of God normally have over one hundred Feast of Tabernacles’ sites in various places around the world every year.  The Continuing Church of God has official sites in Africa, North America, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

As many who are readers of this page at this time are not at the Feast of Tabernacles now, I thought a series on the sites we attended might be of interest.

I first began to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in 1977. My first feast was at Squaw Valley, California, with an attendance of around 10,000 (all attendance figures will be from my memory of estimated attendance), and this was when I saw Garner Ted Armstrong in person. In 1978, I went to Fresno, California, with an attendance of around 7,000. In 1979, I went to Tucson, Arizona for the feast, with an attendance of nearly 12,000 and this is when I saw Herbert W. Armstrong in person and met Stan Radar. In 1980, I attended the feast in Big Sandy, Texas and slept in a small tent–it rained a lot and this was quite wet–about 7,000 may have attended there that year.

In 1981, this was the first feast I did not drive to, it was Lihue, Hawaii, It had about 1,500 in attendance–this was the first time my wife and I were married and attended the same Feast site. In 1982, we went to Anchorage, Alaska with about 500 in attendance.

1983 was the first feast for either of us outside of the USA, as well as the first feast that we began to take slide pictures. We went to Hoogeveen, Netherlands (all of my wife’s grandparents came to the USA from the Netherlands). About 500 attended there that year. We wrote a list of things that were different there compared to the USA. Here are two photos from that feast:

Netherlands Windmill Netherlands Canal

Windmill and canal near Hoogeveen, Netherlands, 1983

In 1984, we went to Sri Lanka for the feast. About 100 or so attended. Sri Lanka was so different from the USA that we thought that perhaps we should write a list of what was the same as in the USA as that would have been a fairly short list. Here are two photos taken at that feast:

Village in Sri Lanka Fruit Stand in Sri Lanka

Below is the Riverina hotel where church services for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1984 was held:

Riverina Hotel

In 1985, we went to Durban, South Africa. About 1,000 were there. Below is a South African village and a picture of the building services met at in Durban:

South African Village Durban, South Africa

In 1986, we went to Pasadena, California for the Feast. We did not take slides, but should we find the photos taken, perhaps they will be added. One thing that puzzled me in 1986, was the fact that I learned that J. Tkach (Sr.) generally did not go anywhere for the Feast of Tabernacles. Later, of course, he and his administration minimized the necessity to observe God’s festivals.

In 1987, we went to Rotorua, New Zealand for the Feast. About 1200 of so attended there that year. We stayed at the Geyserland Hotel where we saw geysers and boiling mud everyday. The city has a sulfur smell, which when you are there a while, you get used to. Below is the view from our hotel room as well as a countryside photo taken:

Rotarua Geysers and Mud Sheep Grazing on New Zealand Countryside

In 1989, we went to the south Pacific nation of Fiji. About 200 or so attended that year:

Michael in Fiji

In the 1980s, there were over 100 feast sites pretty much every year, and thus we tended to have a lot of choices about where to attend. Even now there are probably over 100 sites in total, though many are quite small. Back in the 1980s, upwards of 150,000 WCG people reportedly kept the Feast of Tabernacles. In the 21st century, it appears that less than 50,000 attend each year.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Should you keep the Fall Holy Days?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law
The Bible teaches that every seven years that the law should be read at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is what I did at the first Feast site where I gave an actual sermon (as opposed to a sermonette) in 2006 and that is also what I did in 2014.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Calendario Anual de Adoración –Una crítica basada en la Biblia y en la Historia: ¿Hay un Calendario Anual de Adoración en la Biblia?
Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days Which? Herbert W. Armstrong explains what the days the Bible endorses.
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.