Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

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?

Gregory Thaumaturgus greatly affected church history

Monday, November 17th, 2014


Eastern Orthodox Rendering of Gregory Thaumaturgus

COGWriter

November 17th is observed by some Greco-Roman Catholics in honor of the third century bishop known as Gregory Thaumaturgus, whom they also call saint Gregory of Neocaesarea.

Although I had heard of him years ago, until I was doing research for the book Fatima Shock!, I had not realized how much he affected the history of the Greco-Roman churches, as well as to a degree, the Church of God.

Around 238-244 A.D. Gregory (died roughly 270 A.D.) seems to have been the first to have claimed to have seen an apparition of Mary. This apparition allegedly appeared to him before he became a bishop. Gregory is also known as “Gregory the Wonder Worker” and Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus (wonder worker). He had been trained by allegorical teacher Origen in Alexandria.

Related to Gregory, Roberts and Donaldson reported:

He was believed to have been gifted with a power of working miracles, which he was constantly exercising…the demons were subject to him…he could cast his cloak over a man, and cause his death…he could bring the presiding demons back to their shrine.

Because Gregory’s power over demons and other “wonders” were apparently accepted by many, he had influence. It seems that Gregory’s enchantments and/or sorceries (cf. Isaiah 47:5-12; Nahum 3:4), along with Imperial persecutions, may have greatly assisted the Greco-Roman faction essentially eliminating the organized faithful in Asia Minor. Gregory was also a factor in the Marian cults that began to rise up around that time. His writings teach praise and excessive devotion to the “Holy Virgin,” including the blasphemous teaching that Mary “blotted out” Eve’s “transgressions.” He was amongst the earliest ones to promote the expression the “Holy Trinity” and the pagan idea idea that humans had an immortal soul.

Here the mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed by the archangel to the Holy Virgin according to the gospel (Gregory Thaumaturgus, Homily concerning the Holy Mother of God, Section 35. Translated from the Armenian by F. C. CONYBEARE The Expositor 5th series vol.3 (1896), p. 173. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/gregory_thaumaturgus_homily.htm viewed 11/13/12).

We prove, then, that the soul is simple…that what is simple is immortal…If, therefore, the soul is not corrupted by the evil proper to itself, and the evil of the soul is cowardice, intemperance, envy, and the like, and all these things do not despoil it of its powers of life and action, it follows that it is immortal. (Gregory Thaumaturgus. On the Soul, Chapters 5, 6. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0608.htm> viewed 06/05/11)

The gospel never uses the expression trinity, much less “Holy Trinity” nor does it teach that the soul is immortal (to the contrary, in Ezekiel 18:4 the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible teaches ” the soul that sinneth, the same shall die” and “The soul that sinneth, the same shall die” in Ezekiel 18:20), but Gregory put his own interpretation on scripture (in the trinity case, he was referring to Luke 1:35; and the immortality of the soul he did not cite scripture). Gregory was a major reason that the trinity started to get accepted much outside of Montanist circles (Origen, too, was a factor). Protestants, of course, accepted the trinity, yet few realize that Gregory’s ‘Marian visions’ played a role in this.

The Catholic Encyclopedia claims Gregory the Wonder worker developed the first creed with the word meaning “Trinity”:

The first creed in which it appears is that of Origen’s pupil, Gregory Thaumaturgus. In his Ekthesis tes pisteos composed between 260 and 270, he writes:

There is therefore nothing created, nothing subject to another in the Trinity: nor is there anything that has been added as though it once had not existed, but had entered afterwards: therefore the Father has never been without the Son, nor the Son without the Spirit: and this same Trinity is immutable and unalterable forever (P.G., X, 986).

It is manifest that a dogma so mysterious presupposes a Divine revelation.

The last statement should give many pause as it was allegedly from seeing one or more apparitions of Mary (and supposedly the Apostle John) that Gregory the Wonder Worker gained his “revelations.” Gregory was a supporter of Rome and Alexandria was a major factor in spreading more acceptance of the trinitarian position, especially throughout Asia Minor and Antioch.

Because of his “miraculous abilities,” his ideas apparently had more acceptance than what the Bible taught, and many were adopted. Noticed something else he wrote:

O holy virgin…She is the ever-blooming paradise of incorruptibility, wherein is planted the tree that giveth life, and that furnisheth to all the fruits of immortality…Thus the holy Virgin, while still in the flesh, maintained the incorruptible life…the holy Virgin has surpassed even the perfection of the patriarchs (Gregory Thaumaturgus. The Second Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers2/ANF-06/anf06-24.htm#TopOfPage viewed 11/13/12)

The Bible does not teach that Mary led an “incorruptible life.” The Bible teaches that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), except Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-15). Stating or implying that Mary did not is in biblical error. Perhaps it should be added that Dr. Ludwig Ott’s 20th century book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma teaches:

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in scripture… Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly (explicite) teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary. (Ott L. L. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 4th ed . TAN Books, Rockford (IL), Nihil Obstat: Jeremiah J. O’ Sullivan. Imprimatur: + Cornelius, 7 October 1954., Printed 1974, TAN Books, pp. 200-201)

But it was more than Marian ideas that Gregory Thaumaturgus influenced.

Bishop “Gregory the Wonder Worker” was involved in the councils looking into Paul of Samosata who at the time was considered the Greco-Roman Bishop of Antioch (Roberts A, Donaldson J, Volume 20, p. 3).

Gregory assisted in getting Greco-Roman influence to succeed there. The Prophet Isaiah warned that the “Lady of the Kingdoms” used sorceries since her “youth” (Isaiah 47:5,12), and Gregory’s use of “powers” in the formative years of the Greco-Roman confederation seems consistent with that biblical prophecy (he also had influence in various parts of Asia Minor (Gregory Thaumaturgus. Canonical Epistles IV,VII. Ante-Nicene Fathers; also Drijvers JW, Watt JW. Portraits of spiritual authority: religious power in early Christianity, Byzantium, and the Christian Orient, Volume 137 of Religions in the Graeco-Roman world. BRILL, 1999, pp. 107-108).

Actually, in Antioch with the successor to Paul of Samosata, we seem to see for the first time, a bishop outside of Italy that was apparently installed because of direction from the Church in Rome, and the mystic Gregory Thaumaturgus was involved in this. This, to a degree, marked a major expansion of influence of the Church of Rome outside of Italy (it also had some previous influence in Corinth).

The Catholic Encyclopedia credits his influence in expanding their church (which it calls “the Christian Church” below):

Among those who built up the Christian Church, extended its influence, and strengthened its institutions,…Gregory of Neocaesarea holds a very prominent place…To attract the people to the festivals in honour of the martyrs, we learn that Gregory organized profane amusements as an attraction for the pagans who could not understand a solemnity without some pleasures of a less serious nature than the religious ceremony.

Sadly, it is partially because of Gregory that “Christianity” took on more of the trappings of pagan worship and the Marian cults had been allowed to grow and flourish.

Gregory greatly influenced theological thought and several widely accepted false doctrines were originated and/or promoted by him. The fact that he reportedly caused the death of enemies by throwing his cloak upon them has not sufficiently diminished his influence–but should have.

For more information, please check out the following:

Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! provides concerned Christians with enough Catholic-documented facts to effectively counter every false Marian argument.
Fatima Shock! YouTube Dr. Thiel highlights a few points of why no one would support Fatima, etc. as discussed in the documented book Fatima Shock!
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers?
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.
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.

Protestantism has been called the Tannenbaum religion

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

COGwriter

The Wall Street Journal ran an article before that contained the following:

The Stranger in the House

Christmas trees arrived in England and America only in the mid-19th century…

The Tannenbaum (which simply means “fir tree”) came to be associated, apocryphally or not, with Martin Luther. Because of that, many Catholics in Germany once disdained it. The “aversion of many Catholics went so far,” Mr. Brunner writes, “that at the end of the nineteenth century many simply called Protestantism the ‘Tannenbaum religion.’ ” As late as the 1930s, the Vatican was recommending manger scenes instead of Christmas trees as a more theologically sound sort of decoration. But the church today no longer sees a conflict—Christmas Eve at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square now features both a life-size Nativity and a towering Christmas tree.

It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the tradition began to spread outside Germany. Christmas trees were a novelty in England by 1850, thanks to a royal example set by the German-born Prince Albert…In the mid-19th century, the Christmas tree made inroads in America, too…
.
It has often been suggested that the Christmas tree is a pagan custom co-opted long ago by pragmatic Christian evangelists…Yes, candlelight featured in pre-Christian solstice festivals. And no doubt one can find some misty antecedents involving tree worship. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324894104578115160059099842.html

There are a lot of non-Christian symbols associated with the celebration of what is now called Christmas. Tannenbaum literally means “fir tree” and is the German term for Christmas tree.  Although Catholics once derided Protestants for the practice, the times I have been in Vatican City near Christmas, I have seen Tannenbaums there.

Most who have looked into the subject of Christmas trees are familiar with the passages in Jeremiah 10 that clearly seem to condemn pagan tree practices:

2″Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:2-5, NIV).

While the trees themselves cannot harm us, God says that they cannot do any good.

Even though there is nothing in the Bible to encourage putting a tree in one’s house to honor the Jesus or the Father, both Catholics and Protestants believe that they have a legitimate reason.

Even though they condemned the fir trees when once calling Protestantism the “Tannebaum religion,” Catholics claim a prior use. In the 7-8th century, their St. Boniface chopped down an oak dedicated to Thor and a fir tree grew at the same place. After that happened Boniface was said to have stated, “Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light” (Christmas Tree. Wikipedia, 12/22/07). But the truth is that the evergreen tree had long been a pagan religious symbol in northern Europe.

According to the Historic Trinity Lutheran Church of Detroit:

Dr. Martin Luther is credited with originating the use of lighted pine trees in the home for Christmas (http://www.historictrinity.org/advent.html).

Here is one account of the of how Catholics and Protestants got the tree:

Why do we have a decorated Christmas Tree? In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry.

Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God’s Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.

The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night (The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree Copyright © 1998-2007 Maria Hubert von Staufer. http://www.christmasarchives.com/trees.html viewed 12/22/07).

Of course, that once again is one of the problems of Christmas, it substitutes pagan symbols for that of the true God.

And if you are asking yourself, doesn’t the trinity represent God, you may wish to study more into the Bible and the History of Christianity and also read the article Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Another aspect of history is that the early Church condemned winter celebrations like modern Christmas–Christmas was not observed by the early true church. This is documented in the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

Now, getting back to the accusation of Catholics about Protestants being the “Tannenbaum religion,” basically the Protestants condemned the Church of Rome for many practices, including idolatry. The Catholics considered that having a decorated fir tree in one’s house, which of course is not a symbol associated with the birth of Jesus in the Bible, during the Christmas season was a form of idolatry.

However, over time, as the use of trees gained more universal acceptance, those of the Catholic faith decided to no longer decry their use, but instead found a legend in their own history to suggest that they had the idea originally.

All of this may seem to be bizarre, but a lot of the doctrinal history of the Catholics and Protestants is.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
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.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? What about the use of the cross, by the early Church?
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?
Hanukkah Originally a Jewish national holiday, has Hanukkah morphed into a Jewish Christmas?
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?
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.
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?

Book claims Jesus had children

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

COGwriter

Another new book is coming out with false claims about Jesus and the gospels:

November 11, 2014

A new book claims even Jesus had his secrets.

It’s called “The Lost Gospel” and it’s based off of manuscripts found in British Library dating back more than 1,400 years written in Syriac – the language spoken by Jesus himself. It claims Jesus had a secret family made up of two sons and a wife.

The mystery woman is none other than Mary Magdalene – one of his closest followers, who attended his crucifixion and burial.

Their alleged romance has been suspected before. A writer for the Daily Mail points out in the ’50s, the book “The Last Temptation Of Christ” suggested that they married after Jesus was taken down from the cross. Martin Scorsese turned the idea into a film in 1988.

The significance of this latest book is that it’s based off of manuscripts. The authors studied it for six years and believe it has an “embedded meaning” and that they’ve uncovered a missing fifth gospel.

Experts are already lining up to dispute the controversial assertions that are being compared to the fictional storyline created by Dan Brown for his novel, “The Da Vinci Code.”

Mark Goodacre, a professor of religious studies at Duke University, told ABC News, “I don’t think that there is any credibility in these claims at all. There is simply no evidence in this text or anywhere else that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, much less that they had a couple of children.”  http://www.aol.com/article/2014/11/11/book-claims-jesus-had-a-wife-and-kids/20991803/?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl21%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D561654

Later update:

This week two authors came out with a book about a newly translated ancient text — a “Lost Gospel,” as the book calls it. The text has been in the possession of the British Library since 1847 but only in recent years attracted scholars’ attention. It suggests that Jesus was not only married but had two children, and that Mary Magdalene — long viewed as a close friend of Jesus — was indeed the Virgin Mary.

The text described in this newest “Lost Gospel” is said to be a translation from an original Greek manuscript, according to a letter dating to the sixth century that accompanied the Syriac text in the British Library, says a Daily Mail article on the book.

The Syriac story isn’t even directly about Jesus. It’s written in code, centering on a man called Joseph, a kind of Jesus substitute. His wife is called Aseneth and is said to stand in for Mary Magdalene. In this tale, Joseph is called the “son of God,” and there are passages that seem to parallel the language of Holy Communion.

Joseph and Aseneth are married by the Egyptian pharaoh, who pronounces at their wedding: “Blessed are you by the Lord God of Joseph, because he is the first-born of God, and you will be called the Daughter of God Most High and the bride of Joseph now and for ever.”

It’s worth recalling that many gospels were composed in the decades, even centuries, after Jesus — not only the four that Christians acknowledge. http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/12/opinion/parini-new-text-jesus-married-with-kids/

The Bible does not teach that Jesus went to Egypt as an adult or that he got married.  The Bible also teaches that Mary Magdalene was not the same person as Jesus’ mother Mary (John 19:25).  There was no such thing as ‘holy communion’ then as that term did not originate until later.

Others have claimed that the gnostic ‘gospels’ teach Jesus was married.

As far as an “embedded meaning” goes, the following is all that I have seen from the false Gospel of Mary Magdalane that mentions “two” anything:

5:10) I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit?

5:11) The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is [...]

There are some mentions of “two” in the false Gospel of Philip, which also does not state Jesus had two children.   The false Gospel of Philip is sometimes cited as ‘proof’ Jesus was married (see also The Da Vinci Code: Some Good, Most Bad).  That ‘gospel’ was not written by the Apostle Philip, nor does it claim to be.

Jesus was not married to any human female and did not have human offspring while on earth. In addition to the fact that the Bible does not teach that He was married, when He was dying, He made provisions for the Apostle John to take care of His mother Mary:

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”  27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

If He was married to Mary Magdalene and/or He had young children, Jesus obviously would have tried to make provisions for them, but He did not.  Jesus did not have any children nor was He married to Mary Magdalene nor was she the same person as His mother.  The gospels record that people like Peter had a wife, and it would be logical that if Jesus had one that this would have been mentioned.

Perhaps I should mentioned that I have read what was released in the past about the so-called ‘Gospel of Mary Magdalene” as well as many other false gospel accounts that have circulated.  False gospel accounts were sometimes created in the second century by those that did not hold to Church of God doctrines.

There is a 10th-11th century Arabic Islamic manuscript that has one chapter that reports about those considered to be Judeo-Christians. Shlomo Pines translated much of that chapter into English. the translation of one section of it (the term “Christian” below refers to apparently Latin supporters) about something that seems to have happened in Jerusalem in the 130s A.D.:

(71a)…(And the Romans) said: “Go, fetch your companions, and bring your Book (kitab).” (The Christians) went to their companions, informed them of (what had taken place) between them and the Romans and said to them: “Bring the Gospel (al-injil), and stand up so that we should go to them.”

But these (companions) said to them: “You have done ill. We are not permitted (to let) the Romans pollute the Gospel. In giving a favourable answer to the Romans, you have accordingly departed from the religion. We are (therefore) no longer permitted to associate with you; on the contrary, we are obliged to declare that there is nothing in common between us and you;” and they prevented their (taking possession of) the Gospel or gaining access to it. In consequence a violent quarrel (broke out) between (the two groups). Those (mentioned in the first place) went back to the Romans and said to them: “Help us against these companions of ours before (helping us) against the Jews, and take away from them on our behalf our Book (kitab).” Thereupon (the companions of whom they had spoken) fled the country. And the Romans wrote concerning them to their governors in the districts of Mosul and in the Jazirat al-’Arab. Accordingly, a search was made for them; some (qawm) were caught and burned, others (qawm) were killed. (As for) those who had given a favorable answer to the Romans they came together and took counsel as to how to replace the Gospel, seeing it was lost to them. (Thus) the opinion that a Gospel should be composed (yunshi`u) was established among them…a certain number of Gospels were written. (Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 14-15)

True Christians (called ‘companions’ above) did not create nor accept the false gospel accounts that ones influenced by Roman authorities did back then (see The New Testament Canon – From the Bible and History and also The Ephesus Church Era).

Anyway, there are no LOST GOSPELS that Christians need to believe are missing from the New Testament.

There are many who want to challenge the Bible and what it teaches about Jesus.

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 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.
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?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
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.
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?

Catholics understand some aspects of church history, but . . .

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014


Colosseum of Rome (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

Ran across the following on a Catholic website:

Catholic Church

Founded by Christ, propagated by His apostles, from Jerusalem through Asia Minor to Rome as its permanent world center, from which it spread throughout the world according to the mandate of its Divine Founder:

Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28). (Catholic Church. Star Quest Production Network, Priest Roderick Vonhögen – Chief Executive Officer. http://saints.sqpn.com/catholic-church/)

Now, it is absolutely certain that the Church founded by Jesus began in Jerusalem as Acts 1 and 2 show. It is also absolutely certain that the apostles went from Jerusalem via Antioch to Asia Minor. BUT while it is true that the Apostle Paul went to Rome, there was no type of mandate that Rome would be its “permanent world center.”

Notice what Jesus taught in Matthew and Paul taught in Hebrews using the Rheims New Testament and the New Jerusalem Bible (both are approved Catholic versions/translations of the Bible):

22…and you shall be odious to all men for my name, but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved. 23 And when they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another (Matthew 10:22-23, RNT).

22 You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. In truth I tell you, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes. (Matthew 10:22-23, NJB)

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

14 There is no permanent city for us here; we are looking for the one which is yet to be. (Hebrews 13:14, NJB).

Thus, to claim that a city such as Rome could possibly be the “Eternal City” for Christians is to go against scripture as even Catholic renderings of scripture effectively prove that no single city, including Rome, could have remained the headquarters of Christendom for nearly 2000 years, if people are willing to actually believe what is written in the Bible.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned if there was to be one city from the beginning to the end, it likely would have had to be Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 21:2) as the Christian church began there (Acts 2) according to Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Church of God scholars.

What about the claim that the Church of God in Rome was originally founded by Peter and Paul (which is what Irenaeus falsely suggested in the late second century)? Notice this comment from a Catholic priest and scholar about Irenaeus, Peter, Paul, and Rome:

Irenaeus focuses on the church of Rome which he describes as “greatest, most ancient and known to all, founded and established by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.” Here we must acknowledge a bit of rhetoric, as the church of Rome was obviously not so ancient as those of Jerusalem or Antioch, nor was it actually founded by Peter or Paul (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 147).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also agrees with F.A. Sullivan here (and not Irenaeus) as it states this about Paul’s epistle to the Romans:

Paul would have worded his Epistle otherwise, if the community addressed were even mediately indebted to his apostolate (Merk A. Transcribed by W.G. Kofron. Epistle to the Romans. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Furthermore, the Bible clearly agrees with The Catholic Encyclopedia, and F.A. Sullivan here. The Bible shows that Paul did not start the Church in Rome–thus the apostolic tradition that Irenaeus relied on is a fraudulent one–as it is not true–it is a myth. For here is what Paul wrote to the church at Rome:

20. And I have so preached this Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build
upon another mans foundation:
21. But as it is written, They to whom it hath not been preached of him, shall see: and they
that have not heard, shall understand
.
22. For the which cause also I was hindered very much from coming unto you (Romans 15:20-22, Rheims NT of 1582).

There is no way that Paul could have written the above if he considered that he founded or co-founded the church in Rome as in these verses he explains that he did not first come to Rome lest he build on another man’s foundation. (Note: I choose to use the Rheims New Testament of 1582 A.D. as this is considered to the Catholic standard English translation of the New Testament).

Catholic scholar F.A. Sullivan also further agrees, as he wrote:

…it doesn’t appear that Paul ever appointed any one person as “resident bishop” over any of his churches…(Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 35).

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).

And that is certainly correct concerning Rome. There were no “bishops of Rome” in the first century and certain Roman Catholic scholars understand this, hence the idea that there is an unbroken line of bishops in apostolic succession from Rome and Rome being the “permanent world center” for the true Church is false (more information can be found in the article Apostolic Succession).

And as far as the getting the gospel out to the world as a witness, the true church was not limited to Asia Minor. True churches were spread throughout many lands, such as northern Italy, France, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Antioch, and elsewhere.

And where did those churches come from? Well, logically, they not come from Rome, but from the Smyrnaeans (the prior Church era) in Asia Minor and Palestine. According to A.N. Dugger, Dr. T.V. Moore noted:

“The type of Christianity which first was favored, then raised to leadership by Constantine was that of the Roman Papacy. But this was not the type of Christianity that first penetrated Syria, northern Italy, southern France, and Great Britain. The ancient records of the first believers in Christ in those parts, disclose a Christianity which is not Roman but apostolic. These lands were first penetrated by missionaries, not from Rome, but from Palestine and Asia Minor. And the Greek New Testament, the Received Text, they brought with them, or its translation, was of the type from which the Protestant Bibles, as the King James in the English, and the Lutheran in German, were translated.” — Dr. T. V. Moore, The Culdee Church, chapters 3 and 4, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 25, 26 (As cited in Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, pp. 90-91).

So, it was Asia Minor, and not Rome that was the main location of the true Church of God in the first and second centuries, and even into the third century. And while a confederation involving Rome rose up in the second through fourth centuries, it ended up changing doctrines and not holding to original Christianity in many ways.

Most people, Catholic or otherwise, simply do not know enough about the real truth about early church history. But they can if they are willing to look at the truth of what really happened.  Here is a link to a free online pdf booklet: Continuing History of the Church of God.

Some articles documenting these and other items of possibly related interest include the following:

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.
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.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood?
The Apostle Peter He was an original apostle and early Christian leader. Where was Peter buried? Where did Peter die?
The Apostle Paul He was a later apostle, but also an early Christian leader.
The Apostle John He was an original apostle, early Christian leader, and the last of the original apostles to die.
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
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.
The History of Early Christianity Are you awar
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?

Rome has an official day to honor ‘relics’

Friday, November 7th, 2014


Statue at Fatima Chapel and Image of That the Children Saw

COGwriter

November 8th is the day that the Church of Rome claims is for ‘Holy Relics’ and partially cites the Council of Trent from the 16th century as proof this is acceptable:

Feast of the Holy Relics

Protestantism pretends to regard the veneration which the Church pays to the relics of the Saints as a sin, and contends that this pious practice is a remnant of paganism.

The Council of Trent, on the contrary, has decided that the bodies of the martyrs and other saints who were living members of Jesus Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost, are to be honored by the faithful. This decision was based upon the established usage of the earliest days of the Church, and upon the teaching of the Fathers and of the Councils. http://saints.sqpn.com/pictorial-lives-of-the-saints-the-feast-of-the-holy-relics/ viewed 11/06/13

Holy relics?

There are a few points to consider.

The first is that the Bible is opposed to the idea of ‘holy relics.’ Here is one admonition from the Apostle John:

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).

The second is that those that the Church of Rome consider to have been early ‘Fathers’ and saints were opposed to them as well.

After John died, his disciple, Polycarp of Smyrna became perhaps the most well-known Christian leader in the second century.

Even though the Roman Catholics and Orthodox leaders consider that Polycarp was an important saint, note what Polycarp wrote in the mid-second century:

I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. “Abstain from every form of evil.” For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others ? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord? (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter XI. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Thus, Polycarp says that those who practice idolatry, even if they profess Christ, will be judged as a heathen!

In the early-mid second century there was an apologist named Marcianus Aristides who wrote the following to the emperor:

But it is a marvel, O King, with regard to the Greeks, who surpass all other peoples in their manner of life and reasoning, how they have gone astray after dead idols and lifeless images. And yet they see their gods in the hands of their artificers being sawn out, and planed and docked, and hacked short, and charred, and ornamented, and being altered by them in every kind of way. And when they grow old, and are worn away through lapse of time, and when they are molten and crushed to powder, how, I wonder, did they not perceive concerning them, that they are not gods? And as for those who did not find deliverance for themselves, how can they serve the distress of men?

But even the writers and philosophers among them have wrongly alleged that the gods are such as are made in honour of God Almighty. And they err in seeking to liken (them) to God whom man has not at any time seen nor can see unto what He is like. Herein, too (they err) in asserting of deity that any such thing as deficiency can be present to it; as when they say that He receives sacrifice and requires burnt-offering and libation and immolations of men, and temples. But God is not in need, and none of these things is necessary to Him; and it is clear that men err in these things they imagine (Marcianus Aristides. TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK AND FROM THE SYRIAC VERSION BY D. M. KAY. Apology of Aristides the Philosopher, Chapter XIII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 9. Edited by Allan Menzies, D.D. American Edition, 1896 and 1897. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

It should be noted that Marcianus Aristides argued against the concept that it was acceptable to believe that the idols only represented God–he clearly teaches that God was not to be worshiped with idols.

Melito also wrote against idols. Melito was a bishop of Sardis and is considered to be a saint by both the Catholics of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox.

Here is what Melito wrote around 170 A.D.:

We are not those who pay homage to stones, that are without sensation; but of the only God, who is before all and over all, and, moreover, we are worshippers of His Christ, who is veritably God the Word existing before all time (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. From the apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 11/18/06).

For there are some men who are unable to rise from their mother earth, and therefore also do they make them gods. from the earth their mother; and they are condemned by the judgments of truth, forasmuch as they apply the name of Him who is unchangeable to those objects which are subject to change, and shrink not from calling those things gods which have been made by the hands of man, and dare to make an image of God whom they have not seen…

Who is this God? He who is Himself truth, and His word truth. And what is truth? That which is not fashioned, nor made, nor represented by art: that is, which has never been brought into existence, and is on that account called truth. If, therefore, a man worship that which is made with hands, it is not the truth that he worships, nor yet the word of truth…”

There are, however, persons who say: It is for the honour of God that we make the image: in order, that is, that we may worship the God who is concealed from our view. But they are unaware that God is in every country, and in every place, and is never absent, and that there is not anything done and He knoweth it not. Yet thou, despicable man! within whom He is, and without whom He is, and above whom He is, hast nevertheless gone and bought thee wood from the carpenter’s, and it is carved and made into an image insulting to God. To this thou offerest sacrifice, and knowest not that the all-seeing eye seeth thee, and that the word of truth reproves thee, and says to thee: How can the unseen God be sculptured? Nay, it is the likeness of thyself that thou makest and worshippest. Because the wood has been sculptured, hast thou not the insight to perceive that it is still wood, or that the stone is still stone? The gold also the workman: taketh according to its weight in the balance. And when thou hast had it made into an image, why dose thou weigh it? Therefore thou art a lover of gold, and not a lover of God…

Again, there are persons who say: Whatsoever our fathers have bequeathed to us, that we reverence. Therefore, of course, it is, that those whose fathers have bequeathed them poverty strive to become rich! and those whose fathers did not instruct them, desire to be instructed, and to learn that which their fathers knew not! And why, forsooth, do the children of the blind see, and the children of the lame walk? Nay, it is not well for a man to follow his predecessors, if they be those whose course was evil; but rather that we should turn from that path of theirs, lest that which befell our predecessors should bring disaster upon us also. Wherefore, inquire whether thy father’s course was good: and, if so, do thou also follow in his steps; but, if thy father’s course was very evil, let thine be good, and so let it be with thy children after thee. Be grieved also for thy father because his course is evil, so long as thy grief may avail to help him. But, as for thy children, speak to them thus: There is a God, the Father of all, who never came into being, neither was ever made, and by whose will all things subsist…

And then shall those who have not known God, and those who have made them idols, bemoan themselves, when they shall see those idols of theirs being burnt up, together with themselves, and nothing shall be found to help them (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. A DISCOURSE WHICH WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF ANTONINUS CAESAR, AND HE EXHORTED THE SAID CAESAR TO ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND SHOWED TO HIM THE WAY OF TRUTH. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 11/18/06).

Notice that Melito taught against the use of images/idols/icons AND then taught NOT to accept them even if it was handed down by fathers (in other words, do not rely on traditions that say that idols are correct). Since Melito is considered to be both a saint and a ‘father’ of the Church by those Roman Catholics and Orthodox, then they should heed what he said.

About the same time that Melito was around, Theophilus also was a church writer. Theophilus of Antioch is not only considered to have been a saint by the Catholics and Orthodox, he also is in the Orthodox list of successors from the apostles. Here is a little bit of what he wrote about idols:

The divine law, then, not only forbids the worshipping of idols, but also of the heavenly bodies, the sun, the moon, or the other stars; yea, not heaven, nor earth, nor the sea, nor fountains, nor rivers, must be worshipped (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXXV. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume II. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

And concerning piety He says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I am the LORD thy God” …Of this divine law, then, Moses, who also was God’s servant (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book III, Chapter IX. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Other second century writers, though they were not in the true Church of God, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, and Tertullian also wrote against idols.

Notice that Irenaeus actually wrote that when God was going to call Gentiles (basically quoting quoting Isaiah 17:7-8), that they would no longer have or worship idols:

And that these promises the calling from among the Gentiles should inherit, to whom also the new testament was opened up, Isaiah says thus:

These things saith the God of Israel: In that day a man shall trust in his Maker, and his eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel: and they shall not trust in altars, nor in the work of their own hands, which their fingers have made. For very plainly this was said of such as have forsaken idols and believed in God our Maker through the Holy One of Israel. And the Holy One of Israel is Christ: and He became visible to men, and to Him we look eagerly and behold Him; and we trust not in altars, nor in the works of our hands.

(Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Chapter 91. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920).

The Catholic Encyclopedia calls Athenagoras a “Christian apologist of the second half of the second century”. Here is some of what he wrote:

Because the multitude, who cannot distinguish between matter and God, or see how great is the interval which lies between them, pray to idols made of matter, are we therefore, who do distinguish and separate the uncreated and the created, that which is and that which is not, that which is apprehended by the understanding and that which is perceived by the senses, and who give the fitting name to each of them—are we to come and worship images? If, indeed, matter and God are the same, two names for one thing, then certainly, in not regarding stocks and stones, gold and silver, as gods, we are guilty of impiety. But if they are at the greatest possible remove from one another— as far asunder as theartist and the materials of his art— why are we called to account? (Athenagoras the Athenian. A Plea for the Christians, Chapter 15. Translated by B.P. Pratten. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. 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/0205.htm>).

Notice some of what Tertullian wrote:

The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry…

God prohibits an idol as much to be made as to be worshipped. In so far as the making what may be worshipped is the prior act, so far is the prohibition to make (if the worship is unlawful) the prior prohibition. For this cause–the eradicating, namely, of the material of idolatry–the divine law proclaims, “Thou shall make no idol;”…All things, therefore, does human error worship, except the Founder of all Himself. The images of those things are idols; the consecration of the images is idolatry.

(Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapters 1,4. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

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

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

Furthermore, notice an accusation against those who professed Christ in the second/third century (date uncertain):

Why have they no altars, no temples, no acknowledged images? (Minucius. Octavius. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4, Chapter 10. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

It should be noted that no Christian prior to the late second or early third century is ever described as carrying an idol, having images in any worship services, or even wearing a cross (though some apostates started to advocate crosses in the second and third centuries).

The third point to mention is that it took councils of men to accept the relics for the Church of Rome.

It was not until the ninth century that the arguments over idols were resolved between the Roman Catholics and Orthodox (the Orthodox generally wanted them, but many Roman bishops/pontiffs up until that time fought against them). The Orthodox Church teaches this:

The Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 and 843) decreed the use of icons, following in the main the teaching of St. John of Damascus” (Litsas FK. A Dictionary of Orthodox Terminology – Part 2. http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article9152.asp 8/27/05) .

…within Christianity itself there had always existed a ‘puritan’ outlook, which condemned icons because it saw in all images a latent idolatry…The final victory of the Holy Images in 843 is known as ‘the Triumph of Orthodoxy’…One of the distinctive features of Orthodoxy is the place which it assigns to icons. An Orthodox church today is filled with them…An Orthodox prostrates himself before these icons, he kisses them and burns candles in front of them…Because icons are only symbols, Orthodox do not worship them, but reverence or venerate them…icons form a part of Holy Tradition…The Iconoclasts, by repudiating all representations of God, failed to take to full account the Incarnation” (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp. 31-33).

Notice that the Orthodox call that acceptance of icons as “the victory of Orthodoxy” over those of anti-idol professing Christian faiths (the date appears to have been March 11, 843).

However, since the use of idols and icons was not the position of the first or even second century church, it is truly not orthodox to use idols and icons. (More information on the Orthodox Church can be found in the article Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God.)

One Protestant scholar noted:

For the Jews and the early Christians, all attempts to create a likeness of God were prohibited…Gradually this reluctance faded, and at the beginning of the eighth century we find images in widespread use in the East; in the West they were less common (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 212).

But why did idols win for the Greco-Romans? It is my opinion that the Romans felt that they needed unity with the Orthodox in order to put up a united front against Islam. Islam was properly against idols, and apparently Rome felt that its sometimes historically correct position against idols portrayed a divided “Christianity,” hence this was one additional major compromise for it.

The fourth point is that not only are the relics not holy, they often are not what people think.

At the beginning of this post are two statues. The first one is one normally in Fatima, Portugal, that Pope Francis had flown to Rome last month to bow and pray before it. My wife and I saw this particular statue when we visited Fatima. While millions have bowed down before and/or prayed to this statue, I will mention again to all who will hear that the statue IS NOT DRESSED like what the three children at Fatima (Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta) claimed the ‘Lady of Fatima’ looked like in 1917. What they described was a young female with a short skirt as also shown at the beginning of this post. There is no possible way that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared in Fatima, Portugal before Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in 1917. Suggesting that the first image, which is not even an approximate representation of what was seen in Fatima, was somehow holy is wrong.  It should also be pointed out that the relics of the Apostle Peter are also not in the Vatican according to various Catholic-related sources.

The Bible shows that the use of images will be forced upon the world in the end:

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Revelation 13:11-15)

This will not end well for Vatican (Revelation 17:15-17) nor for the rest of the world (Revelation 18).

The Bible does NOT endorse the ‘Feast of Holy Relics’ day.

For more information, please check out the following:

What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! provides concerned Christians with enough Catholic-documented facts to effectively counter every false Marian argument.
Fatima Shock! YouTube Dr. Thiel highlights a few points of why no one would support Fatima, etc. as discussed in the documented book Fatima Shock!
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers?
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
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 Malachy Prophecies and “Peter the Roman” An Irish bishop allegedly predicted something about 112 popes in the 12th century. Pope Benedict XVI was number 111. Francis would be number 112–if he is that one–and if so, he is to reign until Rome is destroyed. May he be an antipope/final Antichrist? Here is a related YouTube video The Malachy Prophecies and “Peter the Roman”.
Could Pope Francis be the Last Pope and Antichrist? Former Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis. According to some interpretations of the prophecies of the popes by the Catholic saint and Bishop Malachy, Pope Francis 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? This is a YouTube video.
Why Should American Catholics Should Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good?
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?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper 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. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? 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. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
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?]
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.