Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

John Chyrsostom on Holy Days, Paganism, and Christmas

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

John Chrysostom on Ceiling in Constantinople

John Chrysostom (Istanbul, Turkey. May 2008)

COGwriter

John Chrysostom a ‘doctor’ of the the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The improperly named Protestant publication Christianity Today went so far as to claim he was the “Early church’s greatest preacher.”

In the late fourth century he made various comments about paganism, Christmas, and biblical Holy Days. Since many of them were in the Fall and Winter of the year, this seemed to be an appropriate time to report about some of them.

John Chrysostom wrote the following in the fourth century:

And what, pray you, is that Minerva of theirs, and Apollo, and Juno? They are different kinds of demons among them. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, p. 66)

So, on the surface it appears that John Chrysostom condemned pagan gods, yet he ended up endorsing a holiday originally for the sun god Mithra.

How?

It was John Chrysostom got the Orthodox in Constantinople to observe Christmas on December 25:

We may take it as certain that the feast of Christ’s Nativity was kept in Rome on 25 December…It was introduced by St. John Chrysostum into Constantinople and definitively adopted in 395 (Thurston. H. 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).

John Chrysostom admitted Christmas was not part of his church’s tradition in a sermon:

St. Chrysostom in a Christmas sermon, delivered at Antioch in the year 386, says, ” it is not ten years since this day [Christmas Day on December 25] was clearly known to us, but it has been familiar from the beginning to those who dwell in the West.” “The Romans who have celebrated it for a long time, and from ancient tradition, and have transmitted the knowledge of it to us.” (Addis WE, Arnold T. A Catholic Dictionary: Containing Some Account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils, and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church. Benziger Brothers, 1893. Original from Columbia University, Digitized Sep 15, 2009, p. 178)

His claim that Rome or the West knew it from the beginning is blatantly false. The knowledge of December 25th does not come from any ancient actual Christian tradition.

As pretty much everyone who has looked into the history of Christmas knows, December 25th was selected because it was the birthday of the sun-god Mithras–it was not an original practice of true Christians in Rome or any part of the West. John Chrysostom should have known that and taught against it.

Why?

Notice also that the The Catholic Encyclopedia freely admits that Christmas on December 25 was not celebrated by the early church and that it was Mithra whose birthday was observed anciently on Devember 25th:

Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra…Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. 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).

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).

(For more information on this, please see the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?)

Anyway, mainstream Christianity will continue to try to overlook the fact that it adopted pagan practices, condemned biblical ones, and still prefers traditions of men over the Bible.

Another Roman Catholic supporter wrote this about the Council of Nicea a few decades later:

Three hundred Fathers or even more gathered together in the land of Bithynia and ordained this by law; yet you disdain their decrees. You must choose one of two courses: either you charge them with ignorance for their want of exact knowledge on this matter, or you charge them with cowardice because they were not ignorant, but played the hypocrite and betrayed the truth. When you do not abide by what they decreed, this is exactly the choice you must make. But all the events of the Council make it clear that they showed great wisdom and courage at that time. The article of faith they set forth at the Council show how wise they were…At that time the whole synodal gathering, welded together from these champions, along with their definition of what Christians must believe, also passed a decree that they celebrate the paschal feast in harmony together. They refused to betray their faith in those most difficult times [of persecution]; would they sink to pretense and deceit on the question of the Easter observance? (5) Look what you do when you condemn Fathers so great, so courageous, so wise (John Chrysostom. Homily III Against the Jews, III:3,4-5. Preached at Antioch, Syria in September, 386 AD).

So it is an article of faith that Roman Catholic bishops had the authority to change the scriptural date of Passover and make it an Easter celebration, even though Constantine said part of why he wanted it to have nothing in common with those he called the detestable Jewish crowd?

But this was simply not the faith of the true second century Christians in Asia Minor as Polycrates testified. The last words of his response to Roman bishop Victor about changing the date of Passover to Easter Sunday was:

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.’ (Polycrates. Letter to Victor. As quoted by Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24) .

So, those who held to the original faith and traditions from the Bible would not accept the change of Passover, but John Chrysostom did.

Notice also the following:

ALL SAINTS. As early as the fourth century, the Greeks kept on the first Sunday after Pentecost the feast of all martyrs and saints, and we still possess a sermon of St. Chrysostom de-livered on that day. In the West, the feast was introduced by Pope Boniface the Fourth after he had dedicated, as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs, the Pantheon, which had been made over to him by the Emperor Phocas. The feast of the dedication was kept on the thirteenth of May. About 731 Gregory III. consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Church in honour of all the saints, from which time All Saints’ Day has been kept in Rome, as now, on the first of November. From about the middle of the ninth century, the feast came into general observance throughout the West. (Addis W, Arnold T. Catholic Dictionary, 6th ed. The Catholic Publication Society Co, 1887. Nihil Obstat. EDUARDUS S. KEOGH, CONG. ORAT., Censor Deputatu Imprimatur. HENRICUS EDUARDUS, CARD. ARCHIEP. WESTMONAST. Die 18 Dec., 1883. Imprimatur. John Card. McCloskey, Archbishop of New York. Feb. 14, 1884. Copyright, Lawrence Kehoe, 1884/1887. p20).

All Saints’ Day

In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). (Mershman, Francis. “All Saints’ Day.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 11 Aug. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01315a.htm>)

So, John Chrysostom is credit for observing another holiday that did not come from the Bible (see also All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day).

A few decades after Christmas was adopted by Rome, the Roman Catholic saint John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now…If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together. (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).

The wicked and unclean fast of the Jews is now at our doors. Thought it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean…But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews I:1; III:4. Preached at Antioch, Syria on Sunday, September 5, 387 A.D.).

So also the Law fixed the feast of Tabernacles (John Chrysostom. Homily IV Against the Jews IV:3. Catholic Christians of Antioch Turning to Sabbath and The New Moon Day and Other Holy Days. 387 A.D.).

John Chrysostom preached against the Fall holy days, because some who professed Christ were observing them.

Yet, John Chrysostom wrote in favor about another “festival of the Jews”:

When, it says, the day of Pentecost was fully come: that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these…And, it says, there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men. The fact of their dwelling there was a sign of piety: that being of so many nations they should have left country, and home, and relations, and be abiding therefor it was Pentecost. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, pp. 53, 55, 56).

So, he admitted that after the resurrection, the faithful needed to be present at what was then considered to be a “Jewish feast.” If God was opposed to all of them, why would the apostles have kept it? The obvious reason is that they were following Jesus’ example and had no reason to believe that they were somehow done away. (For more on Pentecost and what John Chrysostom and others wrote about it, please see the article Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2?

Furthermore, notice that the New Testament calls one of the so-called “Jewish” holy days “great.” Notice the following from both a Protestant and a Catholic translation:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out (John 7:37, NKJV)

And in the last, the great day of the festivity JESUS stood, and cried (John 7:37, Rheims New Testament).

So who is right?

Those who follow Jesus’ practices or those who condemn them?

Recall that John Chrysostom, in this case, somewhat correctly stated,

If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies.

So which days should be observed? Which have a “great day” according to the Bible? Which days are lies?

John Chrysostom supported days with pagan ties such as Christmas and Easter. His logic for Christmas on December 25th is clearly wrong and based upon lies and misinformation that he spread. So, it should be obvious that God’s days are not lies, but his (and those of churches who adopted those days that he promoted) were clearly lies.

John Chrysostom was not faithful to the scriptures and no one should follow his false traditions above the word of God.

Several items of possibly related interest may include:

John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Antisemite This late fourth/early fifth century Bishop of Constantinople is considered to be a ‘saint’ and ‘doctor’ by the Church of Rome, Church of England, and the Eastern Orthodox, but he did not teach Christ’s love.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern 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?
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? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity? Was Jesus born in a below ground cave? Was Jesus born below the “Church of the Nativity”? Were the wise men there?
How did December 25th become Christmas? Was Jesus born then? If not, why December 25? Here is the article translated into Mandarin Chinese 12月25日最后是怎么被许多基督的信仰者采纳的.
Is Keeping Christmas a Sin? Is keeping Christmas acceptable for true Christians? What are some scriptures to consider?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
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?
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。.
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.
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?

Was Jesus born in a different Bethlehem?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Place of Jesus Birth?

Representation of Bethlehem Birth, Vatican City, January 2010

COGwriter

An archeologist has claimed that there is evidence that Jesus was born in a different Bethlehem than the one many believe He was born in.

The Bible says the place of Jesus Christ’s birth was the town of Bethlehem of Judea, but one archaeologist says the Christian savior was more likely born in a different Bethlehem that is farther from Jerusalem.

Aviram Oshri, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), told NPR that he has conducted extensive excavations in Bethlehem of the Galilee, and has found artifacts there which suggest that the traditionally held view of where Jesus was born may be incorrect.

“I think the genuine site of the nativity is here rather than in the other Bethlehem near Jerusalem,” said Oshri.

In Bethlehem of the Galilee, Oshri says he has discovered stone vessels that were used by Jews during the same time period that Jesus lived. Excavators also discovered evidence of what was once a large, ornate church – Oshri says the church suggests that Christians also once believed the site to be the place of Christ’s birth – as well as parts of a wall that may have been built by emperor Justinian to protect the village.

“It makes much more sense that Mary rode on a donkey, while she was at the end of the pregnancy, from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Galilee which is only seven kilometers rather than the other Bethlehem which is 150 kilometers,” he said, according to NPR. http://www.christianpost.com/news/archaeologist-believes-jesus-was-born-in-a-different-bethlehem-87317/#0MsAwGYHHDvHUxsA.99

Interestingly, when he was asked if he thought that this would change people’s attachment to the other Bethlehem site, he said no. I, too, have found that once people make up their minds about something, they often will not consider the facts. But on the Bethlehem matter, while I am not certain which Bethlehem, I am certain that Jesus was not born in a cave (see Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity?).

In November of 2012, a book from then Pope Benedict XVI questioned a couple of Christmas traditions:

The three wise men from the Christmas story, Benedict concedes, could be inspired by a “theological idea” rather than by a “historical event,” though he says he prefers a more literal interpretation of the biblical account…

Benedict also recalls that, according to the Gospels, there are no animals in the Bethlehem stable to warm the newborn Jesus. But, he adds, no Nativity scene would be complete without them…Killjoy Pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions: New Jesus book reveals there were no donkeys beside crib, no lowing oxen and definitely no carols (see also Pope Benedict Questions Some Christmas Traditions).

There are many other traditions associated with Christ’s birth, including the fact that it is seems impossible that He could have been born in the Winter. And, of course, symbols that many now associate with His birth, like Santa Claus and Christmas trees were not related to Jesus’ actual birth by any of the early Christians either.

Some people care, most do not.

But all should remember that Jesus taught:

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)

And the truth is the truth.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity? Was Jesus born in a below ground cave? Was Jesus born below the “Church of the Nativity”? Were the wise men there?
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. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Is Keeping Christmas a Sin? Is keeping Christmas acceptable for true Christians? What are some scriptures to consider?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god? Here is a link to a related sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
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.

Remembering evangelist Dibar Apartian

Monday, December 8th, 2014

COGwriter and Dibar Apartian

COGwriter

Dibar Apartian died four years ago, on December 8, 2010.  For those unfamiliar with him, he had been an evangelist in the Church of God (COG) for decades.

He was born of Armenian parents and his family had to flee when he was quite young because of persecution from the Turks (known as the Armenian genocide).  He ended up in the French-speaking portion of Switzerland.  During World War II he worked for the US Embassy there and then later came to the USA.  In the USA, he met and married his wife Shirley.

Dibar Apartian lived into his mid-90s (there were debates about the year he was born and he himself did not seem to be certain as his early documents were lost). As many know, he was responsible for the French language work in the old Radio Church of God which became the old WCG, then he was in the old GCG, and then the Living Church of God. He also handled other aspects of Church Administration in and out of the USA for LCG.

For decades, he also taught French at the old Ambassador College (Pasadena, California campus).  He loved the French.  He loved the French language, he loved French food, and he loved the French people.

His voice was well known throughout much of the French-speaking world as he did a radio program for decades in the French-language that was heard in several French-speaking nations.  He used to sometimes write articles that went into the English language publications and sometimes gave sermons in English.

While my wife Joyce and I were familiar with that, we started to become more familiar with him in the1980s.  As WATS line volunteers for the old Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, sometimes his Friday night Bible studies were played and we would watch them.

After the apostasy in the old Worldwide Church of God, Dibar Apartian did not run immediately to Dr. Meredith and the new Global Church of God as he was unsure where to go. After a couple of years, he ended up with the Global Church of God mainly because of doctrinal issues he had in discussions with the emerging United Church of God.

Within a year or less of that, Dibar Apartian and I met.  We later counted each other as friends. We would spend time together when my family and I used to visit the Garden Grove congregation of the old Global Church of God in the mid to late 1990s.

Prior to the GCG split in 1998, Dibar Apartian expressed his opinion about various actions and decisions that the then presiding evangelist Roderick C. Meredith made.  He personally told me in late 1998, that he told Dr. Meredith if he ever did something like this again that he would not follow him into another organization.  This clarified, for me at least, some of his views of Dr. Meredith.

Dibar Apartian and I worked together on many matters, including when I was looking into a variety of allegations against the late Herbert W. Armstrong (see 15 Accusations and Truthful Responses About Herbert W. Armstrong) as well as the Elijah issue (see The Elijah Heresies).

When some claimed that the proclamation work of Matthew 24:14 was completed, he disagreed.  Dibar Apartian was an evangelist who was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom in the French language over radio while Herbert Armstrong was alive, and he did so after some improper believe that Matthew 24:14 had been fulfilled in total. 

Dibar Apartian continued to preach the Gospel until shortly before he died. When I asked him if Herbert Armstrong ever told him to stop doing this in the event of his (HWA’s) death, Dibar Apartian responded, “To the contrary, he told me he wanted me to go on more stations.”  This ended up being reported in the article Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?

We had various discussions about the Bible and Bible study.  Dibar Apartian used to teach that the Bible was not like other books–you do not simply read it, you need to truly study it and live by it (see Read the Bible). And that is true (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).

Dibar Apartian and I worked together on how to reach people better in the third world, including places like Nigeria. Neither of us cared for how the then LCG director of Church Administration handled some of those matters, and he made suggestions on how to work to support Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20 without getting some things stopped by that director (who was later removed from that position).

Dibar Apartian had a keen interest on prophecy, as well as history.  Notice two items he wrote:

On September 3, 1939, the Allies declared war against Germany after its invasion of Poland, and all stores and restaurants were closed. Some did not heed. Some had even scoffed at the warning. As a result, they suffered the consequences. How about us, today? What is our attitude as we see dark clouds hovering over our heads? Recently, the United States, as well as the rest of the world, has gone through unparalleled calamities. How many more wake-up calls do we need before we heed and prepare for the calamities ahead? The Bible tells us, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).  (Apartian D.  World Ahead Weekly Update, September 8, 2005)

Many are becoming perplexed and wondering what’s really happening to this world? When will earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes end? When will wars and cruelty among human beings come to a halt? We, as God’s people, know the answers but we must constantly be strong and vigilant to help others in the world turn to God, submit to His will, and observe His commandments. That’s our mission. Are we doing our part—zealously? Are we ourselves submitting to God—totally? Hurricane Katrina is one of the wake-up calls, not only to Americans but to all mankind. The question is: Will mankind wake up? And will all of God’s people around the world wake up? Each of us, individually, holds the answer. Remember Christ’s words, “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:37) (Apartian D.  World Ahead Weekly Update, September 1, 2005)

He and I often discussed prophetic, historical, doctrinal, and administrative matters.

Many members in LCG were unaware that Dibar Apartian had issues with LCG’s Tomorrow’s World magazine.  He stated it lacked interest, depth, and relevance.  In 2007 and 2008, he pushed Dr. Meredith to agree to have articles in it from me as he told me that my articles were what LCG needed.  Dr. Meredith agreed, at least at that time.  I agreed, but under the proviso that LCG would first fix errors in its booklet on church history.  Although LCG, numerous times agreed to do that and told me numerous times that it was working on doing that, it never happened as various ones promised.  The reality is that one of the top people did not want the magazine changed and prevented the booklet changes as a reason to not have me submit articles.

Dibar Apartian frequently used to urge me to try to get the other leaders in LCG to correct doctrinal, prophetic, and literature errors.  Although I tried to get him to do more of that himself, he always instructed me to not only do that, but to remind other leaders in Charlotte to keep their promises to fix errors, literature, etc.

But we did have an incident where he got quite angry with me. It was related to something that started on October 3, 2008 when Dr. Roderick C. Meredith (Presiding Evangelist of the Living Church of God) called me and said to me, “God may consider you to be a prophet.” Dr . Meredith and I discussed this in depth as Dr. Meredith was the one who brought the topic up.

Dibar Apartian shown sitting between COGwriter and my wife Joyce, along with his wife Shirley and our sons Michael and Brian (David is in between them, but hard to see) in Evian, France

Later that month, my family and I went to the Feast of Tabernacles in Evian, France.  The conversation with Dr. Meredith weighed on my mind, so I asked Dibar Apartian (who was the Feast site coordinator) and Dr. Jeff Fall (who was my pastor, who also attended there that year) to meet with me before services one morning.  I told both of them about the conversation with Dr. Meredith.

Upon hearing this, Dibar Apartian got upset.  He told me that Dr. Meredith did not say such a thing and I assured him that he had.  His emotions got the best of him and he walked out of the meeting and I completed it by discussing what happened in more depth with Dr. Fall.

A couple of days later, after Dibar Apartian calmed down, he came up to me and said that I was either “the one” or the “biggest threat to the church.” He also came up to me shortly thereafter and told me how much he appreciated a sermonette I gave during that Feast.

We continued to speak over the telephone.  I would bring up issues and Dibar Apartian continued to press me to bring the subjects up to other leaders in Charlotte.  So, I did.  He told me that I needed to remind those in Charlotte about errors they were making and truths that they were not teaching, so I did.

In the Summer of 2009, Dibar Apartian told me, in quite a positive tone, that Dr. Meredith had been stating in meetings that “Bob Thiel may be a prophet.”  He seemed very excited.  I reminded him that I had told him that in October 2008, and he said yes he knew, but essentially the forthright way Dr. Meredith brought it up struck him in a very positive way.

Anyway, we continued to work together and I would bounce doctrinal, historical, and prophetic issues off of him and as far as I recall, he always agreed with what I was advocating.  He kept telling me to remind Dr. Meredith and others of issues there, despite the fact that they often would not resolve matters.

In the late Summer of 2010, I asked Dibar Apartian if he still thought I was “the greatest threat to the church or ‘the one.’ “  He said I was not the threat and said that he would try to talk to Dr. Meredith about my prophetic role, but it is not clear how, or even if, he did before he died later that year. But what was appeared clear was that Dibar Apartian believed then that God had a top/prophetic role for me.

Dibar Apartian got ill at the Feast of Tabernacles in Martinique in late 2010, and never truly recovered from that bout of illness.  Here is something he wrote in November 2010:

Dear brethren in Christ: Since the Feast of Tabernacles, my life has known many changes. Humanly speaking, one wonders if the hardship that follows is worth it. The answer is simple: God knows. He knows what every one of us goes through in life and how much we can each take. This has been my strength. Without such hope, life would be worthless. During the last few weeks, while lying in my bed, I have come to understand more and more that God is in control of everything. You and I are simple servants. We should do what He leads us to do. At times, all seems dark. But just like night and day, the light of the day overshadows the darkness of yesterday.

Dibar Apartian was buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Weddington, North Carolina.

In one of our last conversations, he concluded with the words, “I love you.” I was emotionally touched.

Some have attempted to discount and discredit what happened between Dibar Apartian and myself, but what is reported here is true.  There should be several in Charlotte who at least used to know this, as well as one or more LCG ministers not in Charlotte who did.

It should be noted that Dibar Apartian had major issues with LCG in general and Dr. Meredith in particular.  And I was not the only one who knew this.  Someone once in the employ of LCG in Charlotte sent me the following:

I just wanted to write you about Mr. Apartian and what he REALLY felt about LCG and its leaders.

I know that Dibar Apartian expressed serious concern for the LCG brethren, as he made comments about the “true colors” of LCG’s upper leadership would come out after his death-which is exactly what happened.

Mr. Apartian told several LCG members, whom he trusted, that LCG was no longer God’s true Church, and was no longer even a Godly church.

Mr. Apartian was against the “falling away” doctrine, just as John Ogwyn was against it also.

Mr. Apartian also knew that Herbert W. Armstrong was vehemently against Rod Meredith being the human leader of the church. Mr. Apartian always felt uneasy about following Rod Meredith, since he knew HWA’s feelings about that.

Mr. Apartian was also having private meetings, near the end of his life, with ministers of different Church of God groups-one of those ministers, whom Mr. Apartian met with, told me about their meetings in person. Those private meetings were about Mr. Apartian leaving LCG.

However, due to his rapidly failing health and a few other reasons, he stayed with LCG.

He did make it very clear though, that LCG was heading the wrong direction, in terms of doctrine and other major decisions as well.

Mr. Apartian was also very upset about Rod Meredith’s lack of compassion and concern for him, while he was near his death.

Rod Meredith had heard about some of Mr. Apartian’s revealing comments about LCG, and Meredith was not happy.

Therefore, Rod Meredith did not visit much with Mr. Apartian towards the end, and Meredith even discouraged other LCG members from visiting with Mr. Apartian-worried that more negative facts about LCG would “get out.”

I hope this info is helpful-God’s people need to know the truth about LCG and about Rod Meredith

. . .

Mr. Apartian actually said that LCG was no longer a Godly church!

He also said that we would all see LCG’s “true colors” after he died.

He made these statements to several LCG members, but most of them are still working at HQ, so they just keep quiet and don’t say a word.

After Dibar Apartian’s death, certain problems with LCG became clearer and certain ones accelerated.  Many of those have been documented at the COGwriter.com website.  The “true colors” are out there for those who really will love and believe the truth.  But sadly, most seem to not understand the depth of the integrity issues, etc.

Since Dibar Apartian died, LCG changed several doctrines, including the following:

I left LCG because it had serious integrity matters (see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God).  Dibar Apartian realized LCG had them as well.  The integrity matters also spill into matters of doctrine and LCG has made many improper changes (see a list in the article What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God?).

Some time ago, LCG ceased to have the ‘Philadelphia mantle‘ (proper leadership authority for the true and faithful church).  It seems that Dibar Apartian realized this would happen, though even today, most within LCG (including those who know about the integrity and other issues) do not wish to take the biblically appropriate steps about that.

Though this is not a total surprise as Jesus prophesied that most in the end would not see the need to change as they should per His comments in Revelation 3:14-21.

Anyway, I considered Dibar Apartian as a friend and still miss him.  For those that prefer to read this post in the Spanish language, here is a link: http://www.cdlidd.es/dibar-apartian/.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God Several have speculated reasons, but here is the truth. (En el idioma español: ¿Por qué Bob Thiel dejó la Iglesia del Dios Viviente?)
Journal Report on Continuing Church of God Leader Bob Thiel Bob Thiel was interviewed by The Journal News of the Churches of God related to him being a prophet, the proclamation goals of the Continuing Church of God, and why he left LCG.
Response to a Letter from Dr. Roderick C. Meredith Dated December 28, 2012 In violation of Matthew 18, Dr. Meredith publicly sent out a letter that forced Dr. Thiel to conclude that the Continuing Church of God must be formed. Here is that letter and some of Bob Thiel’s comments about it. Here is a version in the Spanish language Respuesta a una carta del Dr. Roderick C. Meredith fechada el 28 de diciembre, 2012.
What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God? This article explains some information and doctrines of the Living Church of God as led by Roderick C. Meredith and some concerns about them. (En el idioma español: ¿Qué hay acerca de la Iglesia de Dios Viviente? ¿Hay diferencias doctrinales con la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios?)
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.
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?
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots.  They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent.

Do Seventh-day Adventists realize that they got Christmas from the worship of the sun-god Mithras?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

James and  Ellen White
James and Ellen White

COGwriter

While no one in the Continuing Church of God celebrates Christmas, many Adventists (SDAs) now do.

While in the CCOG, we have long cited Jeremiah 10 and other scriptures as proof that Christmas trees are not appropriate for Christians, in the late 1800s Ellen White had a different view:

God would be well pleased if on Christmas, each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship (Ellen White, Review and Herald, Dec. 11, 1879 per http://www.ellenwhite.org/criticg.htm 1/11/07).

Do Adventists know that Christmas is of non-Christian origin? Well certainly many of their leaders do.

For example, the late SDA scholar Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi wrote:

The Celebration of Christmas in Some Adventist Churches

The religious celebration of Christmas in Adventist churches is a recent development. I grew up in Rome, Italy, where we never had a Christmas tree in our home or church. My father worked regularly on Christmas day. Our family regarded Christmas as a Catholic festival, similar to the weekly Sunday, Easter Sunday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on March 25, the Feast of Mary’s Assumption of August 15, All Saints Day on November 1, etc.

When I first came to the USA in 1960 as a seminary student at Andrews University, Christmas was primarily the Winter break. I do not recall much Christmas decorations and celebrations in the churches I visited during the four years I spent at the seminary from 1960 to 1964.

Gradually things have changed during the past 50 years. This is evident by the profusely illuminated and decorated front-end area of many Adventist churches at Christmas time. Some churches seem to compete with the rich decorations usually found in Greek Orthodox churches.

Frankly, I am not inspired by the elaborate Christmas decorations and celebration, because as a church historian I am aware of their pagan origin. Jesus was born in a humble manger. There were no fanciful decorations to celebrate His birth. It would be more in keeping with the setting of His birth, to keep the decorations simple, designed to help people catch the real spirit of Christ’s humble birth.

It was the celebration of the birth of the Sun-god in ancient Rome that was accompanied by a profusion of lights and torches and the decoration of trees. To facilitate the acceptance of the Christian faith by the pagan masses, the Church of Rome found it expedient to make not only the Day of the Sun the weekly celebration of Christ’s resurrection, but also the Birth Day of the Invincible Sun-God on December 25, the annual celebration of Christ’s birth…

The term “Christmas” is not found in the Bible. It derives from “Christ + Mass,” that is, from the Mass Catholics celebrate in honor of Christ’s birth on the night of December 24. Surprisingly, there is no mention in the New Testament of any the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Christ. The Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ birth are very brief, consisting only of few verses. (Bacchiocchi S. Day and Meaning of Christmas. ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 161, December 2006).

While Dr. Bacchiocchi appears to be against it, Ellen White and many of her followers appear to have decided that this compromise with sun-worshipers is acceptable.

Here is one comment from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.(Herbermann, Charles, and Georg Grupp. Constantine the Great. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 1 Sept. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04295c.htm>)

An article announcing Dr. Bacchiocchi’s death also had this regarding his position on Christmas:

The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of sun worship’s influence on the Christian liturgical calendar,” Bacchiocchi wrote. “It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date.” (Expert on Bible, Sabbath dies at 70 Samuele Bacchiocchi best known for explaining shift toward Sunday worship. World Net Daily. Posted: December 21, 2008 12:49 pm Eastern. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=84204)

And since Mithras day was Sunday and his birthday was December 25th, why would any SDA find Christmas acceptable? (Those interested in learning more about Mithratic teachings and their adoption amongst those who profess Christ should read the article Do You Practice Mithraism?)

Here is some of what the last newsletter from Dr. Bacchiocchi stated about Christmas:

THE CELEBRATION OF CHRIST’S BIRTH

The celebration of Christ’s birth poses two problems: the date and the manner of the celebration. Regarding the date of Christ’s birth, we shall shortly see that the adoption of the date of December 25th by the Western Church to commemorate Christ’s birth was influenced by the pagan celebration of the return of the sun after the winter solstice.

Several scholarly studies suggests that the Feast of Tabernacles in September/October provides a much more accurate Biblical timing and typology for celebrating Christ’s birth than the pagan dating of December 25th. The latter date is not only removed from the actual time of Christ’s birth, but also is derived from the pagan celebration of the return of the sun after the winter solstice…

The good news of the date of Christ’s birth, is not a festival, with its gifts, parties, fun, feasting, yule log, and lighted Christmas tree–for these are but vestiges of a pagan culture that knows nothing of the true God. The good news of Christ’s birth centers around a person–God’s unspeakable gift, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.

The Celebration of Christ’s Birth in Some Adventist Churches

Several fellow believers asked me to comment specifically on the celebration of Christ’s Birth in some Adventist churches. It is not uncommon for our larger Adventist churches to have a Christmas eve religious service. Somebody asked me the question: “Could you explain to me why some Adventist churches have special Christmas’ eve services while others do not?”

Frankly, I do not understand why some Adventist churches today are adopting the popular practice of an evening church service on December 24. Perhaps they may not be aware that they are imitating the Catholic “Christ—Mass” celebrated at midnight of December 24. They may also ignore the pagan origin of the date of Christ’s birth, which will discussed later. Most likely, for these churches it may be just a matter of cultural conformity, namely, the desire to imitate the impressive Christmas eve services held in Catholic and Protestant churches.

The religious celebration of Christmas in Adventist churches is a recent development…Gradually things have changed during the past 50 years. This is evident by the profusely illuminated and decorated front-end area of many Adventist churches at Christmas time. Some churches seem to compete with the rich decorations usually found in Greek Orthodox churches.

Personally I am not inspired by the elaborate Christmas decorations and celebration, because as a church historian I am aware of their pagan origin…

It was the celebration of the birth of the Sun-god in ancient Rome that was accompanied by a profusion of lights and torches and the decoration of trees. To facilitate the acceptance of the Christian faith by the pagan masses, the Church of Rome found it expedient to make not only the Day of the Sun the weekly celebration of Christ’s resurrection, but also the Birth Day of the Invincible Sun-God on December 25, the annual celebration of Christ’s birth…

THE DATE OF CHRIST’S BIRTH

Surprisingly, there is no mention in the New Testament of any the celebration of the anniversary of Christ’s birth. The Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ birth are very brief, consisting only of few verses found only in Matthew 1:16-24 and Luke 2:1-20). By contrast, the accounts of what is known as “The Passion Week,” are lengthier, taking several chapters…

The Early Christians commemorated annually Christ’s death and resurrection at Passover, but we have no clear indications of an annual celebration of Christ’s birth. A major controversy erupted in the latter part of the second century over the Passover date, but the date of Christ’s birth did not become an issue until sometimes in the fourth century. At that time the dispute centered primarily over two dates for Christ’s birth: December 25 promoted by the Church of Rome and January 6, known as the Epiphany, observed by the Eastern churches. “Both these days,” as Oscar Cullmann points out, “were pagan festivals whose meaning provided a starting point for the specifically Christian conception of Christmas.”

Most Likely Christ Was Born toward the End of September or the Beginning of October

It is a recognized fact that the adoption of the date of December 25th by the Western Church to commemorate Christ’s birth was influenced by the pagan celebration of the return of the sun after the winter solstice. More will be said later about the factors which influenced the adoption of this date. At this juncture it is important to note that the date of December 25 is totally devoid of Biblical meaning and is grossly inaccurate as far as the actual time of Christ’s birth.

If, as it is generally agreed, Christ’s ministry began when He was about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23) and lasted three and one-half years until His death at Passover (March/April), then by backtracking we arrive at the months of September/October, rather than to December 25.2 Indirect support for a September/October dating of Christ’s birth is provided also by the fact that from November to February shepherds did not watch their flocks at night in the fields. They brought them into a protective corral called a “sheepfold.” Hence, December 25 is a most unlikely date for the birth of Christ.3

The most likely date of Christ’s birth is in the latter part of September or the beginning of October. This date corresponds to the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, known also as the Feast of Booths. This feast was the last and most important pilgrimage of the year for the Jews. The overcrowded conditions at the time of Christ’s birth (“there was no place for them in the inn”—Luke 2:7) could be related not only to the census taken by the Romans at that time, but also to the many pilgrims that overrun the area especially during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Bethlehem is only four miles from Jerusalem. “The Romans,” notes Barney Kasdan, “were known to take their censuses according to the prevailing custom of the occupied territories. Hence, in the case of Israel, they would opt to have the people report to their provinces at a time that would be convenient for them. There is no apparent logic to calling the census in the middle of winter. The more logical time of taxation would be after the harvest, in the fall,”4 when people had in their hands the revenue of their harvest.

Support for the belief that Christ was born at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs in late September or early October, is provided by the Messianic themes of the Feast of Tabernacles…

Ideal Time for the Birth of Jesus

The Feast of Tabernacles was the ideal time for the birth of Jesus because it was called “the season of our joy.” The emphasis on the joyfulness of the feast is found in the instructions given in Deuteronomy 16:13-14: “You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns.”

A final interesting sideline supporting the possibility that Christ was born at the very time of the Feast of Tabernacles, is the reference to the wise men that came from the East to visit Christ (Matt 2:1). The land of the East is most likely Babylon, where many Jews still lived at the time of Christ’s birth. Only a remnant of the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile to Palestine during the Persian period. The wise men, most likely, were rabbis known in Hebrew as chakamin, which means wise men.

We are told that the wise men made their journey from the East to Bethlehem because they had seen “the star in the East” (Matt 2:1). Watching the stars was associated especially with the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, the roof of the booth was built with leafy branches carefully spaced so that they would screen out the sunlight without blocking the visibility of the stars. The people watched for the stars at night during the feast because of the prophecy “a star shall come out of Jacob” (Num 24:17). It is possible that it was during the Feast of Tabernacles, the special season of star watching, that the wise men saw the Messianic star and “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matt 2:10).

In the light of the foregoing considerations, most likely Christ’s birth coincided with the Feast of Tabernacles. Being the feast of thanksgiving for God’s willingness to protect His people with the tabernacle of His presence during the wilderness sojourning, it could serve fittingly to celebrate Christ’s willingness to become a human being and pitch His tent among us in order to become our Savior.

The implications of this conclusion are self-evident. The Feast of Tabernacles in late September/October provides Christians today with much more accurate Biblical timing and typology for celebrating Christ’s birth, than the pagan dating of December 25th. The latter date not only is removed from the actual time of Christ’s birth, but is also derived from the pagan celebration of the return of the sun after the winter solstice. Why celebrate the birth of Jesus at the wrong time of December 25th,—a date derived from pagan sun-worship—when the Bible provides us with a more appropriate timing and typology for commemorating such an important event?…

The Pagan Origin of Date of Christmas

The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of Sun-worship’s influence on the Christian liturgical calendar. It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the dies natalis Solis Invicti—the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date…

Rome and the Origin of Sunday, Easter Sunday and Christmas

Let us note that the Church of Rome pioneered not only the observance of Sunday and Easter-Sunday, but also the new date of December 25 for the celebration of Christ’s birth. In fact the first explicit indication that on the 25th of December Christians celebrated Christ’s birthday, is found in a Roman document known as Chronograph of 354 (a calendar attributed to Fuzious Dionysius Philocalus), where it says: “VIII Kal. Jan. natus Christus in Betleem Judaeae—On the eighth calends of January [i.e., December 25th] Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.”

(Bacchiocchi S. (ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 218 “The Meaning, Celebration, and Date of Christmas”. November 2008)

The idea of a December 25th Christmas is pagan, the SDAs originally did not observe it, we in the Continuing Church of God do not observe it, and it should not be observed by true Christians.

Some items of related interest may include:

SDA/CCOG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 The Continuing Church of God is NOT part of the Seventh-day Adventists. This article explains two prophetic differences, the trinity, differences in approaching doctrine, including Ellen White. Did Ellen White make prophetic errors? Did Ellen White make false prophecies?
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. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
Canadian & Philadelphian Mummers Parades: Another tie to Saturnalia In Canada there is a ’12 days of Christmas’ celebration involving Mummers. In Philadelphia, a parade is held on New Years. Does this come from the Bible or where?
Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity? Was Jesus born in a below ground cave? Was Jesus born below the “Church of the Nativity”? Were the wise men there?
How did December 25th become Christmas? Was Jesus born then? If not, why December 25? Here is the article translated into Mandarin Chinese 12月25日最后是怎么被许多基督的信仰者采纳的.
Is Keeping Christmas a Sin? Is keeping Christmas acceptable for true Christians? What are some scriptures to consider?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god? Here is a link to a related sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?

True Prophet or Imposter: Which?

Thursday, November 27th, 2014


Elijah in the wilderness

COGwriter

For quite a few years, I have denounced a variety of false and self-appointed prophets at the www.cogwriter.com website and have long had an article titled Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? From time to time, I also get emails from people who believe that they are some type of prophet or one of the two witnesses or have some special prophetic message. Sadly, because of many false self-appointed prophets, many in the Church of God have dismissed that God actually could have someone in the office of prophet at this time.

In August 2012, after listening to an old radio broadcast from the late Herbert W. Armstrong, I also ran across an article written by L. Leroy Neff on how Christians can discern a true prophet. Partially because of that, I put together an article titled How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.

While that article contains a lot of scriptures, for today’s post, I would mainly like to include the positions of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, as well as the late L. Leroy Neff and William Ellis, and include an ending statement from me.

In a radio broadcast, with a title listed as Proof of a True Prophet, the late Herbert W. Armstrong taught the following:

True prophet…Watch and see if it {what he says} comes to pass–and you can know that man has been called {by God to be a prophet. (Armstrong HW. Proof of a True Prophet. World Tomorrow Radio program. HA535B.MP3)

Events confirming what the prophet said by one called of God is part of the proof.

Back in 1986, then WCG evangelist Leroy Neff wrote an article on the subject titled Imposter–or–True Prophet — Which? Notice something from the article:

How can you tell the impostor from the true servant of God? The answer will probably be quite surprising to many people because they are using an unscriptural basis for evaluation (Neff LL. Imposter–or–True Prophet — Which? Good News, December 1986, p. 10).

Unfortunately, he was right about that. But what he may not have realized when he wrote that was that most who claim to be in the Church of God also tend to use an unscriptural basis for evaluating who is or could be a true prophet of God.

It also needs to be understood that prophets do not have to perform public miracles to be genuine. John the Baptist was a prophet according to Jesus (Matthew 11:7-10), but he is not recorded as performing any public miracles. Actually, the Bible records, “John did no miracle” (John 10:41, KJV). Jesus told the Pharisees that an adulterous generation sought signs, beyond prophetic accuracy (Matthew 12:38-40).

Christians are to walk by faith and not be sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and SEEING miracles is not the final criteria that a Christian is supposed to have. Jesus’ clear requirements for determining a true vs. false prophet was the FRUITS not some sign or miracle (Matthew 7:15-20; 24:24).

Leroy Neff wrote a lot about how to identify a true prophet as well as what is not required:

What are the credentials?

Some people would look to a prophet’s or minister’s credentials. He would be accepted if he were educated at a recognized theological institution. Others would look for a minister’s popularity, his charisma, his personality or his speaking ability.

But the Scriptures show that God’s servants have sometimes not had these qualities or credentials. They were not graduates of the recognized theological institutions of their day. Moses had trouble speaking in public (Exodus 4: 10). Jeremiah was “too young” (Jeremiah 1 :6). Paul lacked certain speech abilities (I Corinthians 2: 1, II Corinthians 10:10). Even Jesus Himself had no outstanding personal characteristics that set Him apart from others, as the religious leaders had to pay Judas to point Him (Matthew 26:47-49).

Some would expect to find a true minister or prophet in a large and beautiful church building. Yet, during the history of the early Church, there is no mention of church buildings. Instead we read that the Church was not a building at all, but the people who were called out of this world to become the Church. The people (the Church) met in various buildings, sometimes in Church members’ homes (Romans 16:5, I Corinthians 16:19, Philemon 2). Paul preached for two years while under house arrest in rented facilities. He probably had both living quarters and a meeting hall of some kind (Acts 28:30-31).

Jesus said His followers would not be many in number, but would be comparatively few: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). (Neff LL. Imposter–or–True Prophet — Which? Good News, December 1986, pp. 10-11)

A true prophet would not need to be from a major theological institution, have the most magnanimous personality, be a great speaker, or have a large or impressive Church, but would be the type willing to meet in members’ homes. He also does not have to have had a ministerial background. God chooses who His prophets are. Notice something from the Old Testament:

14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: “I was no prophet, Nor was I a son of a prophet, But I was a sheepbreeder And a tender of sycamore fruit. 15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, And the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’ (Amos 7:14-15)

So, a prophet also does not need to come from a ministerial family, but instead can be called if he has a secular work background.

Leroy Neff wrote not to disqualify a prophet if some predictions take a long time to happen:

Then there is the prophet or minister who says something will come to pass and it apparently does not. Such a one would certainly be labeled false by most observers. This is one reason, but not the only reason, why almost all of God’s prophets throughout history have been labeled by many as false!

Consider such men as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. They sometimes prophesied for many years, and yet what they said would happen did not come to pass immediately. Why didn’t these prophecies come to pass?

The answer was that it was not yet God’s time for their predictions to come to pass. At the proper time, sometimes years or decades later, the prophecies were fulfilled. And in some cases, what they prophesied has not yet come to pass even in our day, but will be fulfilled in God’s time. There is a time, after ample warning, when God will finally say, “None of My words will be postponed any more” (Ezekiel 12:28).

There are other examples where God’s true servants expected certain events to occur in their lifetimes. During his earlier ministry, the apostle Paul apparently expected Christ to return during his life (I Thessalonians 4:17, I Corinthians 15:51). Later, he realized that it would not occur until later (II Timothy 4:6-8) . Paul was criticized and labeled “false” by accusers, but the members of God’s Church knew he was a true servant of God. (Ibid, p. 11)

It also should be noted that while the Apostle Paul considered himself to be a prophet, not all of his speculative predictions were accurate. He once claimed:

10 I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives (Acts 27:10).

And while his speculation was mostly accurate in that situation, it was not completely accurate, as there was no loss of lives. His position became completely accurate when he claimed to speak as God led him as opposed to his perceptions:

21 Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. (Acts 27:21-26)

So, delays and speculations do not make one a false prophet.

Getting back to Leroy Neff, he continued by asking and providing insight into an interesting question:

Would Christians reject Christ?

If Jesus Christ were to come again in our day, live the same way and teach the same message He did almost 2,000 years ago, many of His “followers” of today would reject Him as false.

Why? Because He would not live the same kind of life they live. He would not observe the same religious days they observe. He would · not eat many of the foods they eat. His teachings about and from the Old Testament would be considered Jewish and unchristian by some who reject that part of Holy Scripture. He would not fit the mold of what many consider to be a true Christian.

In short, they would reject Him as a heretic and the leader of a new sect, just as some labeled his servant Paul “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5) . Undoubtedly some would call His religion a cult, as some label His true religion today. (Ibid, pp. 11-12)

Truly, most people will not listen to a true prophet of God in this age. And, even when God grants power to His two witnesses, most in the world will not only not listen to them, they will be deceived enough to support an army that will fight against the returning Jesus Christ (Revelation 16:13-14; 19:11-19)!

How would one recognize a true prophet? Leroy Neff continued with:

So far we have mostly seen how not to recognize a true prophet. How, then, can you tell a true prophet from a false one? That is the important question we must now answer from the Scriptures, and not from human reason

Paul warned the Corinthians: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it” (II Corinthians 11:3-4).

The New International Version translates the last phrase, “You put up with it easily enough.”

We read elsewhere that. Jesus Christ is God. This passage should make it plain that a minister or prophet can preach Christ, but it can be a different Christ – a different God than the one of the Bible.

How can this be? If the message is different from that of the Jesus Christ of Scripture, and different from that of the original apostles, then the minister or prophet is preaching how to “go after other gods which you have not known.” It is therefore vitally necessary that we prove which ministers preach Christ’s same Gospel and which preach a different gospel and a different message.

Isaiah makes it clear

“To the law and to the testimony!” proclaims Isaiah 8:20. “If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

This expands on what we saw previously. If a prophet or minister does not speak according to God’s Word, according to His law and His testimony, there is no light in him, or, in other words, no truth in him. His message is false. Many claiming to represent God try to “do away” with God’s laws and commandments. They only accept a part of God’s Word and reject the rest…

A true prophet or servant of God will speak according to God’s law. He will speak according to God’s commandments. His way of life will be that of a commandment keeper, not a commandment breaker. He will not just be preaching a gospel about Christ, but he will be preaching the same Gospel that Christ and the original apostles preached – the good news of the coming Kingdom of God on earth.

That is the way to determine who are impostors and who are God’s true prophets, ministers and teachers. (Ibid, p. 12)

A true prophet is one called of God, teaches the same gospel that Jesus taught, has had hands laid upon him (cf. 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:2), keeps the commandments of God, AND has predictions that come to pass. Jesus (Mark 1:14) and Paul (Acts 28:30-31) taught the gospel of the kingdom of God (see also The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church and What is the Gospel?). Even if one appears to be “an angel from heaven,” unless the true gospel is being taught, Paul says such a one should be “accursed” (Galatians 1:9).

Notice one other trait of a true New Testament prophet from the 1965 Good News magazine:

Whenever a man is ordained to an office of greater service in God’s Work hands are laid on him. In the ordination ceremony God’s ministers lay their hands on those being ordained, and ask Almighty God-the Head of this Church-to continue to work in their lives…

The laying on of hands serves the purpose of setting apart anyone or anything in God’s sight, for a SPECIAL USE OR PURPOSE…

God gives special gifts-special powers of His Spirit-to those who are set apart by the laying on of hands. Remember that it was by the laying on of hands that Timothy received the added ability, called “prophecy” by the King James translators…

This proof-in-action of your willingness to submit to God’s human representative-God’s minister -for anointing and the laying on of hands is “acting out” your willingness to accept the spiritual Government of Almighty God Himself over your physical life (Ellis, William H. Why We Have the Laying on of Hands Ceremony. Good News. April-May 1965, pp. 11, 14,15)

A true prophet is under God’s authority. A true New Testament prophet has had hands laid upon him/her and/or received special anointing. You can not anoint yourself or come up with doctrine that contradicts the Bible (cf. Revelation 22:18-19) like at least three self-declared supposed COG “prophets” (Gerald Flurry, William Dankenbring, and Ronald Weinland) and false predictors (like Harold Camping and David Pack) have falsely done)–”Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Thus far, none who have ever contacted me and claimed to have been a prophet of some type have had hands laid upon them to give them the type of anointing that a true prophet of God would likely have had in this church age if God was selecting them. Hence, if the anointing from a true minister has not happened to you, understand that I do not now accept that you are a prophet or one of the two witnesses. Laying hands upon yourself is not enough.

In my case, in November/December 2011, I prayed that if I truly had a prophetic role from God that He would have something happen during a planned mid-December 2011 trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to confirm it or deny it if that were His will. As it turned out, on 12/15/2011 hands were laid upon me in Charlotte by ordained minister Gaylyn Bonjour. He prayed that I would be granted a “double-portion” of God’s Holy Spirit. He told me that he had not ever done this before but he felt that it was reminiscent of the time that the prophetic and ecclesiastical leadership mantle passed from the Prophet Elijah to Elisha (2 Kings 2:9-13). This minister had been unaware that I had prayed that God would have me anointed or somehow identified for a prophetic role on that mid-December 2011 trip if that were His plan for me and I had never discussed my possible prophetic role with him prior to this anointing. This 12/15/11 anointing appears to be the first biblically-appropriate prophetic anointing in the Church of God in many decades, if not many multiple centuries. And the legitimacy of this anointing has been proven by subsequent events–though many do not seem to understand how God works at times. And yes, I will add that I believe that I do have the appropriate prophetic fruits that Jesus discussed (Matthew 7:15-20) and that those truly interested in the truth can see this if they truly wish to prayfully look into this.

The article How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God provides additional information for those wanting to see more scriptures from the Bible about prophets in the New Testament. Sadly today, many seem to wish to believe more in unbiblical traditions and opinions of men than what the Bible actually teaches on the subject of New Testament prophets. What about you? Will you believe or will you somehow allow yourself or others to talk you out of it (cf. Matthew 13:22)?

Would you follow the lead of one that did meet all of the biblical prophetic requirements as he tried to follow Christ? If you heard about one, what would you really do? If you believe in biblical church governance.

ce and do not accept any self-appointed “apostles,” should you not consider the Continuing Church of God as its top human leader has meets the prophetic criteria?

In January 2013, I gave a sermon titled How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God and it is available at the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel. Some may also find it of interest.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets, yet many overlook what the Bible teaches about how to recognize a true one. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? This article contains a scripture-based checklist to assist with this determination.
How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God This is a sermon on YouTube addressing a subject that most in the Church of God do not seem to have looked into very much. It discusses scriptures and dispels some improper assertions that some associated with the COG have made about prophets in this time.
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong?
Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? There have been many false leaders–here is some of why you should be concerned about them.
Who Are The Two Witnesses? What is their job? What does the Bible reveal? What has the Church of God taught on this subject? Might even Roman Catholic prophecies give some clues here?
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios This is the Spanish site for the Continuing Church of God. URL is http://www.cdlidd.es
Paglalahad ng Mga Paniniwala ng Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos This is the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God in Tagalog, the primary language of the Philippines.
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, with some in items in other Asian languages in progress that are intended to be added. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.

Bible vs. Church of Rome on confession of sins

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

COGwriter

The Bible does say to confess sins, but how has been historically understood? What is the position of the Bible? When did the Church of Rome develop its current practices?  What did the old Worldwide Church of God teach?

First, let’s start by reading a passage from the Douay-Rheims Bible (a Catholic version, abbreviated herein as DRB):

16 Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. (James 5:16, DRB)

Notice that this was not a command to confess sins to the clergy.

For those who prefer a more modern version, the following is the same verse from the New Jerusalem Bible (a Catholic version, abbreviated herein as NJB):

16 So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another to be cured; the heartfelt prayer of someone upright works very powerfully. (James 5:16, NJB)

Both versions teach confession of sins to lay members of the church as opposed to auricular (essentially audible) confession to a priest.

Here is the other time the Bible specifically talks about confessing sins:

7 But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10, DRB)

The above says that Christians are to confess sins, and Jesus will forgive them. There is no discussion of penance here or in James 5:16.

According to other scriptures, God/Jesus again is the one we are to confess to:

11 For it is written: As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 Therefore every one of us shall render account to God for himself. (Romans 14:11-12, DRB)

1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly vocation, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Jesus (Hebrews 3:1, DRB)

14 Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin. 16 Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid. (Hebrews 4:14-16, DRB)

Notice also the following:

18 And many of them that believed, came confessing and declaring their deeds. 19 And many of them who had followed curious arts, brought together their books, and burnt them before all; and counting the price of them, they found the money to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:18-19, DRB)

The above people apparently repented of their sins and destroyed certain wicked books, but this was not penance in the sense that the Church of Rome now advocates.

Since the Bible has a different view, than Rome now has, has the Roman Catholic Church changed its position? Well, yes it has.

Although the Church of Rome sometimes cites earlier sources, it needs to be understood that according the Catholic saint and Bishop Augustine, auricular confession to a priest was not the practice in the 4th/5th century—instead he advised people to pray to God for forgiveness:

15. Forgiveness of sins. You have [this article of] the Creed perfectly in you when you receive Baptism. Let none say, I have done this or that sin: perchance that is not forgiven me. What have you done? How great a sin have you done? Name any heinous thing you have committed, heavy, horrible, which you shudder even to think of: have done what you will: have you killed Christ? There is not than that deed any worse, because also than Christ there is nothing better. What a dreadful thing is it to kill Christ! Yet the Jews killed Him, and many afterwards believed on Him and drank His blood: they are forgiven the sin which they committed. When you have been baptized, hold fast a good life in the commandments of God, that you may guard your Baptism even unto the end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin; but they are venial, without which this life is not. For the sake of all sins was Baptism provided; for the sake of light sins, without which we cannot be, was prayer provided. What has the Prayer? Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. Once for all we have washing in Baptism, every day we have washing in prayer. Only, do not commit those things for which you must needs be separated from Christ’s body: which be far from you! For those whom you have seen doing penance, have committed heinous things, either adulteries or some enormous crimes: for these they do penance. Because if theirs had been light sins, to blot out these daily prayer would suffice.

(Augustine. Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed, Chapter 15. In: Seventeen short treatises of S. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Volume 22 of Library of fathers of the Holy Catholic Church. J. H. Parker, 1847. Original from Harvard University, Digitized Sep 28, 2007, p. 575)

And real Christians do pray to God for forgiveness of sins.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the “sacrament of forgiveness” was changed in their church:

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)

So, it took until the 7th century for the modern practice to develop widely.

Of course, 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)

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 some Catholics believe that sins cannot be forgiven without the “sacrament of confession,” this is not the case. And, as the Catechism admits (#1447) the current “sacrament of confession” was not an original apostolic practice.

While some people erroneously believe that God could not forgive them and that they have possibly committed the “unpardonable sin,” those who feel that way pretty much can be assured that they have not committed it–recall that scripture teaches:

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. (1 John 1:9, DRB)

For more details about the “unpardonable sin,” please see the article What is the Unpardonable Sin?

The Catholic Encyclopedia points to John 20:23 as proof that auricular confession is to be made to priests (The Catholic Encyclopedia also pointed to Matthew 16:19, but for more details on that, please see the article Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom?).

Here are two Catholic translations of it and the two verses preceding it:

21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (John 20:21-23, DRB)

21 and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ 22 After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained. (John 20:21-23, NJB)

What is the problem with the above?

Well, for one, no early leader in the Church of God or Greco-Roman Catholic Church believed that this meant that Christians were supposed to confess each of their sins to a priest who would then prescribe penance. This is clear from early church history as well as what the current Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches.

Historically, here is how the Church of God has explained John 20:23:

Some try to use John 20:23 to prove that persons in ecclesiastical offices have the power to forgive sins. This verse reads: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (New King James Version). However, it does not mean that mere men can actually forgive sins in a spiritual sense. God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7-10; Luke 5:21-24). Christ spoke these words to His future apostles in the context of the Church authority He was giving them (see John 20:21)–the power to disfellowship those who were dissenters or heretics (see I Corinthians 5:2 and I Timothy 1:20) and bring them back into the congregation upon repentance (II Cor. 2:6-10). (Letter 032-0189, Confession. Personal Correspondence Course. WCG)

Why is the old Worldwide Church of God position correct? Well besides the scriptures cited, and the fact that the Church has the biblical right to “mark” dissenters (Romans 16:17, DRB, KJV), the reality is that is how early professors of Christ seemed to understand the Church of God’s authority. And forgiveness was related to allowing the marked or disfellowshipped to return.

Notice what Bishop Ignatius wrote (early 2nd century):

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>

This is consistent with what the presbyters of Rome wrote (late 1st century):

You therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. (Letter to the Corinthians (Clement), Chapters 7,52,57. Translated by John Keith. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9. Edited by Allan Menzies. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm>)

That is the authority that they claimed regarding forgiving dissenters.

And that is consistent with the Church of God position that most groups claiming ties to the old WCG, like the Continuing Church of God, still teach.

Regarding priests, The Catholic Encyclopedia goes so far to teach:

Priest This word (etymologically “elder”, from presbyteros, presbyter) has taken the meaning of “sacerdos”, from which no substantive has been formed in various modern languages (English, French, German)…In this sense, every religion has its priests, exercising more or less exalted sacerdotal functions as intermediaries between man and the Divinity (Boudinhon A. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Priest. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Yet, notice that the Bible teaches:

5 For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: (1 Timothy 2:5, DRB)

The only mediator in the Christian religion is supposed to be Jesus the Christ. Thus, the opinion of certain Catholic scholars seems to be in conflict with scripture, since the Bible says the one Mediator is Jesus, not some priest or human leader.

It is partially because of this inaccurate “intermediary/mediator” position that Rome now has priests hear private confessions and claim to forgive sins.

The Bible says to confess sins to one another, but mainly to Jesus Christ. Scripture does not say to do so to a priest, nor does the Bible ever authorize what the Catholics generally mean be “penance” for sin.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

History of Auricular Confession and the ‘Sacrament of Confession’ Did early Christians confess their sins to priests?
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it? Here is a link to a related sermon video The Unpardonable Sin and the Prodigal Son.
Were the Early Duties of Elders/Pastors Mainly Sacramental? What was there Dress? Were the duties of the clergy primarily pastoral or sacramental? Did the clergy dress with special liturgical vestments? Can “bishops” be disqualified as ministers of Christ based on their head coverings?
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. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
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?

Clement, Rome, and Claims

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014


View in Vatican City (photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

November 23rd is the day Catholics have declared as the day for “Saint Clement I.”

There is an individual named Clement in the Bible. He is mentioned one time. Here is the only passage that mentions him:

I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:2-3).

The above was written by the Apostle Paul, but historians are divided on where it was written from (Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, and Caesarea have all been speculated).

This shows that Paul knew someone named Clement. Clement, therefore knew Paul, and was with Paul when he wrote this letter. It can probably be reasonably implied that Clement probably knew others in Philippi. And based on Paul’s writings, it can be concluded that Paul, at that time, considered that particular Clement to be a Christian. It is probably logical to conclude that Clement met with Paul on multiple occasions and probably, like the others, assisted him to some degree.

What it does not show is that Clement was to be the leader of those in Rome or ordained by Peter. Clement simply was one of many who knew and probably assisted the Apostle Paul. The lack of emphasis/preeminence in Paul’s writings would seem to suggest that Clement could not have been the one to become the “bishop of Rome” and the successor of Peter and Paul in 67 A.D. or perhaps later–there are different lists for Clement. It should also be noted that if Paul did write his Epistle to the Philippians in Rome (as many Roman Catholic scholars maintain), one would think that Clement would be mentioned other writings from Paul if Clement was to have preeminence–but instead he is not mentioned anywhere else in any New Testament writing.

Whether or not this is the same individual named Clement that many Roman Catholics consider to succeed Peter cannot be determined from the passages in Philippians. Roman Catholic scholars seem divided on this matter, though the general consensus seems to be that the Clement of Rome is not the same one that Paul referred to. Here are some statements from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Origen identifies Pope Clement with St. Paul’s fellow-labourer, Phil., iv, 3, and 80 do Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome — but this Clement was probably a Philippian. In the middle of the nineteenth century it was the custom to identity the pope with the consul of 95, T. Flavius Clemens, who was martyred by his first cousin, the Emperor Domitian, at the end of his consulship. But the ancients never suggest this, and the pope is said to have lived on till the reign of Trajan (Chapman J. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Clement I. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, the Clement mentioned in the Bible is probably not the Clement of Rome. But again, this is not certain.

If Clement was the ruler of all Christendom during the time he was claimed to be, then it seems odd that the Apostle John failed to mention him or his leadership in any of the books that he wrote after the beginning of Clement’s alleged pontificate (1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Book of Revelation). Since John encouraged Christians to be faithful, it would seem that he would have somehow suggested that there would be a succession of faithful leaders to follow in Rome. Instead, he focused on the leadership of the church in the region of Asia Minor (Revelation 1-3).

John was the last of the original apostles to die and should have known who the leaders of the true church were around the time of his death (around 100 A.D.). And there is no reason to believe that he would have been at a lower status of Clement who was not ordained directly by Christ, nor (see Appendix A) a pope, and nor probably even a bishop.

Some Significant Roman Catholic Teachings About Clement

Here is some of what is claimed about Clement:

4. CLEMENT I, ST. (88-97)…He was among the first baptized by St. Peter…Clement was the one to introduce the liturgical vestments into the sacred functions and the use of the word Amen. He appointed seven notaries, one for each ecclesiastical area of Rome, to edit and file all information regarding martyred Christians…He can be considered the first pope to have abdicated (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p. 2).

It seems impossible that Clement could have appointed seven notaries as the church in Rome then was not large or did not have a major staff. Neither the Bible or any of the earliest historical writings give any hint that Peter baptized Clement—thus that claim appears to have been a later fabrication. Furthermore, if there were seven notaries with Clement, then at minimum one would think that they would have preserve at least who the original “bishops of Rome” were, however they apparently did not (as there are no writings from any of these seven preserved and they allegedly would have been appointed to make writings that were to have been preserved).

The first list was apparently composed by Hegesippus around 155 A.D., and we have no copy of that preserved until Epiphanius claimed to have cited Hegesippus. The actual first known list was actually from Irenaeus around 180 A.D. and it contains no details about the early bishops.

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches this about Clement:

Now Linus and Cletus had each twelve years attributed to them in the list. If Hippolytus found Cletus doubled by an error (Cletus XII, Anacletus XII), the accession of Clement would appear to be thirty-six years after the death of the Apostles. As this would make it almost impossible for Clement to have been their contemporary, it may have caused Hippolytus to shift him to an earlier position. Further, St. Epiphanius says (loc. cit. ): “Whether he received episcopal ordination from Peter in the life-time of the Apostles, and declined the office, for he says in one of his epistles ‘I retire, I depart, let the people of God be in peace’, (for we have found this set down in certain Memoirs), or whether he was appointed by the Bishop Cletus after he had succeeded the Apostles, we do not clearly know.” The “Memoirs” were certainly those of Hegesippus. It seems unlikely that he is appealed to only for the quotation from the Epistle, c. liv; probably Epiphanius means that Hegesippus stated that Clement had been ordained by Peter and declined to be bishop, but twenty-four years later really exercised the office for nine years. Epiphanius could not reconcile these two facts; Hippolytus seems to have rejected the latter…The Church of Corinth had been led by a few violent spirits into a sedition against its rulers. No appeal seems to have been made to Rome, but a letter was sent in the name of the Church of Rome by St. Clement to restore peace and unity. He begins by explaining that his delay in writing has been caused by the sudden calamities which, one after another, had just been falling upon the Roman Church. The reference is clearly to the persecution of Domitian…There is little intentional dogmatic teaching in the Epistle, for it is almost wholly hortatory. A passage on the Holy Trinity is important. Clement uses the Old Testament affirmation “The Lord liveth”, substituting the Trinity thus: “As God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth and the Holy Spirit — the faith and hope of the elect, so surely he that performeth”, etc…The Epistle is in the name of the Church of Rome but the early authorities always ascribe it to Clement. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, wrote c. 170 to the Romans in Pope Soter’s time: “To-day we kept the holy day, the Lord’s day, and on it we read your letter- and we shall ever have it to give us instruction, even as the former one written through Clement” (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., IV, xxx) (Chapman J. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Clement I. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, Catholic scholars admit that some felt that Clement succeeded Peter, while others do not believe that. There is simply no proof of this matter.

Clement could not have come with liturgical vestments as they did not exist that early. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits this, regarding the time of Stephen 1 (254-257):

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).

Hence the statements above regarding Clement’s rules on these matters is also false. Clement is actually both a problem and a key-link for the Roman Church and its claims to supremacy over all of Christendom.He is a problem, specifically, because he is considered the key-link establishing the supremacy of the bishop of Rome. And this key-link is very, very tenuous (he is also a problem as his statement about God and the Lord living suggests that the Holy Spirit is somehow different, and that is not a trinitarian view–please see the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings from Before the Beginning).

Furthermore, most scholars believe that there were no bishops of Rome at the time of Clement’s alleged reign. Notice this admission from a Roman Catholic scholar:

Admittedly the Catholic position, that bishops are the successors of the apostles by divine institution, remains far from easy to establish…The first problem has to do with the notion that Christ ordained apostles as bishops…The apostles were missionaries and founders of churches; there is no evidence, nor is it at all likely, that any one of them ever took up permanent residence in a particular church as its bishop…The letter of the Romans to the Corinthians, known as I Clement, which dates to about the year 96, provides good evidence that about 30 years after the death of St. Paul the church of Corinth was being led by a group of presbyters, with no indication of a bishop with authority over the whole local church…Most scholars are of the opinion that the church of Rome would most probably have also been led at that time by a group of presbyters…There exists a broad consensus among scholars, including most Catholic ones, that such churches as Alexandria, Philippi, Corinth and Rome most probably continued to be led for some time by a college of presbyters, and that only in the second century did the threefold structure of become generally the rule, with a bishop, assisted by presbyters, presiding over each local church (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, pp. 13,14,15).

Clement’s Letter?

Essentially, many Roman Catholics believe that a late 1st century letter to the Corinthians shows that Clement felt that he had the authority over all other Christian churches. And thus, this is the earliest proof that in fact, the cathedra went to the bishops of Rome and therefore (according to this line of reasoning) is still there today.

The first problem is that the letter never says any individual sent it. So even if it was from Clement, he apparently did not feel he himself had what Catholics now call the cathedra (the ecclesiastical chair or authority), for it was unsigned. The second problem is that there is no indication that the Corinthians were in any way writing to Clement. And the third is that recent Catholic scholarship admits that “I Clement” does not establish the primacy of the Roman Church:

In the past, Catholic writers have interpreted this intervention as an early exercise of Roman primacy, but now it is generally recognized as the kind of exhortation one church could address another without any claim to authority over it…I Clement certainly does not support the theory that before the apostles died, they appointed one man as bishop in each of the churches they founded. This letter witnesses rather to the fact that in the last decade of the first century, the collegial ministry of a group of presbyters…was still maintained in the Pauline church of Corinth. This was most likely also the case in the church in Rome at this period (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, pp. 91,101).

During the time that Clement was allegedly bishop of Rome, Catholic historians reported that John was taken to Rome from Ephesus, then suddenly exiled to Patmos, by Emperor Domitian (Tertullian. The Prescription Against Heretics. Chapter 36. Translated by Peter Holmes. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight), and, “after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus” (Eusebius. Church History. Book III, Chapter 23). About this time, a schism occurred in Corinth and someone apparently decided to contact the Christians in Rome for assistance (possibly because John may have been in Rome then or possibly since one of that congregation happen to have been traveling in that direction). The letter response that was sent said it was delayed:

[b]ecause of the sudden and repeated misfortunes and reverses which have happened to us (The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians commonly known as First Clement. Verse 1. Holmes MW, ed. As translated in The Apostolic Fathers Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 3rd printing 2004, pp. 28-29).

It is logical to conclude that these misfortunes probably included John’s exile. Although many Catholics suggest the response sent is definitive proof that Rome was the ruling Church, the letter actually refers to its contents only as “our advice”, does not list any author, and does not otherwise prove anything about Roman authority. Regarding this letter one Catholic scholar has written:

Most scholars are of the opinion that the church of Rome would most probably be have also been led at that time by a group of presbyters (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 15).

If this letter from the Corinthians was sent to Rome because John and others were there, it simply shows that some in Corinth were trying to contact the leadership of the Church. Also, it seems logical that those in the Church at Rome may have decided that since John had been exiled, they should simply respond with their opinion.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

“Pope” Clement I (88-97) He is claimed to have turned down the successor role from Peter, and is claimed to be the first Roman leader to abdicate. There was a Clement mentioned in the Bible. While today’s post has about the first half of what is in this article, there is another half here.
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 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.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the 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?
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.

BibleNewsProphecy: Jesus: Married with Children?

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce our latest video on our Bible New Prophecy YouTube channel:

Was Jesus the Christ married?  Did He have two children as some claim the so-called “Lost Gospel” teaches?  Was He married to Mary Magdalene as the Da Vinci Code and others have stated? How many gospels are there?  Are the supposed ‘historical records’ that Jesus was married, simply false?  When were the gnostic gospel accounts written?  Did Polycarp of Smyrna list any of the extra or so-called “lost gospels” in his letter?  Does the Bible clearly contract the assertions of the book “The Lost Gospel”?

A written article of related interest is titled “Book claims Jesus had children.”

There is also a free online booklet titled “Continuing History of the Church of God.”

There is also another free online booklet titled “Where is the True Christian Church Today?

Here is a link to our video: Jesus Married with Children?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
The Da Vinci Code: Some Good, Most Bad Does The Da Vinci Code properly discuss Christianity? What does it have right and what does it have wrong about early Christianity and other gospel accounts?
Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians Did Polycarp refer to all the books of the New Testament in the early 2nd century? This is Roberts and Donaldson’s translation, corrected by me in one place, where they made a small error in translating Latin by omitting one word.
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? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
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.

Sermon: Binitarian view of the Godhead

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce a sermon posted at its ContinuingCOG channel:

How many beings currently compose the Godhead? What is binitarianism?  Were early Christians binitarian or trinitarian?  What does the Bible teach?  What do the records of early Christianity reveal? Where did the trinity come from?  Who adopted the trinity?  Where most COG and Greco-Roman professors of Christ binitarian or trinitarian through the middle of the fourth century A.D.?

Here is a link to a related written article: Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning

Here is a link to the sermon: What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?.
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Matthew Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 seemingly list two different genealogies for Jesus. Why?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
What is the Holy Spirit? This is an article by Rod Reynolds.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
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 longer article than the Binitarian View article, and has a little more information on binitarianism, and less about unitarianism.
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?
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. To see how CCOG has done so far, here is a sermon Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
Paglalahad ng Mga Paniniwala ng Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos This is the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God in Tagalog, the primary language of the Philippines.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

Pope Gelasius: First called ‘vicar of Christ’ and the meaning of ‘Antichrist’

Friday, November 21st, 2014

COGwriter

On November 21, Catholic of Rome honor their bishop and pontiff Gelasius I.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following about him:

Pope Gelasius I (died 19 November 496) was Pope from 1 March 492 to his death in 496…

Despite all the efforts of the otherwise orthodox patriarch, Euphemius of Constantinople, and the threats and wiles by which the Emperor Anastasius tried to obtain recognition from the Apostolic See, Gelasius, though hard-pressed by difficulties at home, would make no peace that compromised in the slightest degree the rights and honor of the Chair of Peter. The constancy with which he combated the pretensions, lay and ecclesiastical, of the New Rome; the resoluteness with which he refused to allow the civil or temporal pre-eminence of a city to determine its ecclesiastical rank; the unfailing courage with which he defended the rights of the “second” and the “third” sees, Alexandria and Antioch, are some of the most striking features of his pontificate. It has been well said that nowhere at this period can be found stronger arguments for the primacy of Peter’s See than in the works and writings of Gelasius…

As a writer Gelasius takes high rank for his period. His style is vigorous and elegant, though occasionally, obscure. Comparatively little of his literary work has come down to us, though he is said to have been the most prolific writer of all the pontiffs of the first five centuries. There are extant forty-two letters and fragments of forty-nine others, besides six treatises, of which three are concerned with the Acacian schism, one with the heresy of the Pelagians, another with the errors of Nestorius and Eutyches, while the sixth is directed against the senator Andromachus and the advocates of the Lupercalia. The best edition is that of Thiel.

The feast of St. Gelasius is kept on 21 Nov., the anniversary of his interment, though many writers give this as the day of his death. (Murphy, J.F.X. (1909). Pope St. Gelasius I. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06406a.htm)

The reason I reported about him is because he is believed to have been the first pontiff to be referred to as the “vicar of Christ” (Park H. The Roman Catholic Church – A Critical Appraisal. Xulon Press, 2008, pp. 37-38).

Vicar comes from a Latin term:

vicar (n.)
early 14c., from Anglo-French vicare, Old French vicaire “deputy, second in command,” also in the ecclesiastical sense (12c.), from Latin vicarius “a substitute, deputy, proxy,” noun use of adjective vicarius “substituted, delegated,” from vicis “change, interchange, succession; a place, position” (see vicarious). The original notion is of “earthly representative of God or Christ;” but also used in sense of “person acting as parish priest in place of a real parson” (early 14c.). (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=vicar viewed 0421/14)

So “Vicar of Christ” means In Substitute of Christ or Instead of Christ.

So what does the expression “anti-christ” mean?

In English, the word Anti-Christ clearly means one who is opposed or against Christ. And that is consistent with the meaning in the Greek.

But the Greek allows for another definition that seems to be applicable.

The Greek term translated as anti, such as in antichrist in 1 John 2:18, is Strong’s word 473.

NT:473 άντί

anti (an-tee’); a primary particle; opposite, i.e. instead or because of (rarely in addition to):

(Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

The Greek word for Christ, Strong’s word 5547, Christos, means Christ or Messiah.

So, the term Antichrist can mean Opposite of Christ or Instead of Christ.

It is likely no coincidence that after bishops of Rome took the title Pontifex Maximus in the late 4th century and “vicar of Christ” in the 5th century that more started to believe that the Bishop of Rome represented the final Antichrist.

Note: I want to make it clear that consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies, I believe that the final Antichrist will pretend to be a Roman Catholic and betray that church.  That being said, I do not believe that terms such as reverend (cf. Psalm 111:9, KJV), pontifex maximus (an old pagan title meaning bridge builder), or “vicar of Christ” should be used of leaders who claim to be Christian.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Some Doctrines of Antichrist Are there any doctrines taught outside the Churches of God which can be considered as doctrines of antichrist? This article suggests at least three. It also provides information on 666 and the identity of “the false prophet.” Plus it shows that several Catholic writers seem to warn about an ecumenical antipope that will support heresy. You can also watch a video titled What Does the Bible teach about the Antichrist?
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. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
The Mark of Antichrist What is the mark of Antichrist? What have various ones claimed? Here is a link to a related sermon What is the ‘Mark of Antichrist’?
Mark of the Beast What is the mark of the Beast? Who is the Beast? What have various ones claimed the mark is? What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?
Could Pope Francis be the Last Pope and Antichrist? According to some interpretations of the prophecies of the popes by the Catholic saint and Bishop Malachy, Pope Francis I is in the position of “Peter the Roman,” the pontiff who reigns during tribulations until around the time of the destruction of Rome. Do biblical prophecies warn of someone that sounds like Peter the Roman? Could Francis I be the heretical antipope of Catholic private prophecies and the final Antichrist of Bible prophecy? This is a YouTube video.
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?