Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

The Paulicians

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015


Ancient Pergamos

COGwriter

Who were the Paulicians? Were they part of the Church of God? Do you know much about them?

History shows that God had people during the Pergamos era of the Church of God and in various hidden areas, with many of them referred to as ‘descendants of the Nazarenes’, ‘Paulicians’, ‘Bogomils’, ‘Cathars’, ‘Patarenes’, and ‘Albigensians’ (although not all peoples referred by those names were in the true Church).

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a couple of ideas where the name Paulician may came from:

The origin of the name Paulician is obscure. Gibbon (Decline and Fall, liv), says it means “Disciples of St. Paul” (Photius, op. cit., II, 11; III, 10; VI, 4). Their special veneration for the Apostle, and their habit of renaming their leaders after his disciples lend some colour to this view. On the other hand, the form (Paulikianoi, not Paulianoi) is curious; and the name seems to have been used only by their opponents, who held that they were followers of Paul of Samosata (Conybeare, op. cit., cv)…The latest authority, Ter-Mkrttschian (Die Paulicianer, 63), says the name is an Armenian diminutive and means “followers of little Paul” (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Richard L. George. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some of those labeled as Paulicians kept Church of God doctrines, while many with that name did not.

In the latter portion of the third century and even into the fourth century, many Smyrnaeans (especially those with a Jewish heritage) in the Asia Minor area were known as Nazarenes and some were known as Paulicians.

The Bible records that the Apostle Paul was considered to be the head of the Nazarenes (for more on the Nazarenes, please see the article Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?):

1…Paul…5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).

It may be interesting to note that according to something from a 2nd/3rd century document (that was probably altered in places in the 4th century), titled The Life of Polycarp, shows that the Apostle Paul endorsed keeping the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost to those in Smyrna:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians…but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

Thus, the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), taught Gentile Christians in Asia Minor (specifically in Smyrna) to keep the Holy Days. Days many now consider to be Jewish and not Christian–but apparently Paul considered them important for all Christians to keep (see also 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 where he told the Gentiles in Corinth to keep them as well).

Some consider that those who were the followers of Paul in regards to the Holy Days, were Paulicians. However, in the middle of the third century, Paul of Samosata, came to be considered to be a bishop in Antioch (part of the East, but normally considered to have been in Syria, hence not actually part of Asia Minor). But he was accused of immoral behavior and became considered a problem by the Alexandrians and Romans, who held several synods to investigate him and he was deposed.

Lucian Probably Was Called a Paulician

Also notice what else was happening in Antioch at the time:

Lucian of Antioch…Though he cannot be accused of having shared the theological views of Paul of Samosata, he fell under suspicion at the time of Paul’s condemnation, and was compelled to sever his communion with the Church…

The opposition to the allegorizing tendencies of the Alexandrines centred in him. He rejected this system entirely and propounded a system of literal interpretation…(Healy P.J. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. Lucian of Antioch. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some who supported Paul of Samosata were also called Paulicians. Actually, it seems to me that all who did not accept the views of the Alexandrian and Roman churches in the area of Antioch about this time were labeled Paulicians–and this likely included Lucian and people who held similar views.

There were binitarians (sometimes called Semi-Arians) “Paulicians” in the area of Antioch who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath in the Lucian’s time (late third century). While I am not certain if Lucian was or was not in the Church of God, he and others in his area were Semi-Arian, rejected using allegory as the primary way of interpreting the Bible, and since they were considered practicing Judaism, they would have kept the Sabbath. Notice this condemnation by a Roman Catholic Cardinal:

Lucian, who schismatized or was excommunicated on his deposition, held heretical tenets of a diametrically opposite nature, that is, such as were afterwards called Semi-Arian…I would rather direct the reader’s attention to the particular form which the Antiochene corruptions seem to have assumed, viz., that of Judaism… (Cardinal Newman, John Henry. The Arians of the Fourth Century. Longmans, Green, & Co., New York, 1908, pp. 7,9).

So, there were people in the Antioch area that held to some form of Judeao-Christianity in the third century according to Catholic sources.

Emperor Constantine and Others Condemned Them

Towards the end of the Smyrna era, Constantine became emperor. He decreed circa March 7, 321,

“Let all judges, the people of cities, and those employed in all trades, remain quiet on the Holy Day of Sunday. Persons residing in the country, however, can freely and lawfully proceed with the cultivation of the fields; as it frequently happens that the sowing of grain or the planting of vines cannot be deferred to a more suitable day, and by making concessions to Heaven the advantage of the time may be lost.” (Code of Justinian, Book III, Title XII, III. THE JUSTINIAN CODE FROM THE CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS. Translated from the original Latin by Samuel P. Scott. Central Trust Company, Cincinnati, 1932).

The Emperor authorized persecution against those who did not share his religious beliefs (many of which came from Mithraism), such as Sunday. Around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics,

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure? (Chapter LXIV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

Some of those referred to as Paulians (Paulicians) and Cataphrygians were part of the true Church of God. And like some other persecutions, it included those truly in the Church of God and those not in the true church. Herod, when he tried to kill Jesus, persecuted an entire nation, killed many babies, but Jesus’ family fled the persecution and He survived. Constantine’s tactics seem similar. Because Emperor Constantine called for and oversaw the Council of Nicea in 325 which endorsed Sunday, it makes sense that any “Paulicians” that kept the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) would engender his wrath.

Despite what Constantine tried to do, there were still binitarian (sometimes called Semi-Arian) Paulicians in Armenia who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath in the late fourth century and they were persecuted by others:

Eustathius was succeeded by Erius, a priest, and semi-Arian…Erius also condemned fasts, stated feasts, prayers for the dead, and the celebration of Easter; he urged a purer morality and a stricter observance of the Sabbath. He had many followers, whose numbers were augmented by one of Paul of Samosota, from whom they were called Paulicians. Notwithstanding the opposition of the prelates, who invoked the secular arm to prevent the defection of their spiritual subjects, the tenets of this sect struck deep root in Armenia and many of its eastern provinces, and finally the great body of Christians in the former country, withdrew from the Episcopal communion, and publicly espoused the sentiments of the Paulicians…The bishops of Syria, Pontus, and Cappadocia, complained of the defection of their spiritual flocks…induced the Grecian emperors to commence, and continue for nearly two centuries, the most terrible persecutions against the Paulicians (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 20-23).

Anti-Christ Notions

They were not popular with the Roman Catholics because they considered them to represent forces that were anti-Christ. Actually, as a Catholic source suggested that the Paulicians first came up with the papal-antichrist theory in the fourth to seventh century:

Now, one of the first questions which it is natural to ask on entering upon the subject is, whereas the Pope is said to be Antichrist, sometimes from the fourth, sometimes from the seventh century, when was he first detected and denounced, and by whom? On this point, Todd supplies us with much information, from which it appears that the belief that the Pope was Antichrist was the conclusion gradually formed and matured out of the belief that the Church of Rome was Babylon, by… the Oriental Manichees or Paulicians (Newman JH. The Protestant Idea of Antichrist. [British Critic, Oct. 1840]. Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman. Copyright © 2004 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. http://www.newmanreader.org/works/essays/volume2/antichrist1.html viewed 12/03/07).

Why would that occur then?

In the late fourth century (382 AD), after the Eastern emperor Theodosius established Greco-Roman Christianity as the official religion of the empire, the Western Emperor Gratian renounced the title of Pontifex Maximus (he was the also last of the emperors to hold that title). Almost immediately afterwards, the bishops of Rome took the term and have used it ever since.

Since “Pontifex Maximus” was a pagan title signifying the greatest (maximus) bridge-builder (pontifex) between mortals and the gods, it seems that when the Roman bishops started to refer to themselves this way that it was clear to the faithful of the true Church that this could only be done by one who could go along (cf. Revelation 13:11-15) with someone like the “man of sin” that the Apostle Paul had warned about (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-11), as well as one who had a pagan view of the Godhead (more information on the Godhead can be found in the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).

(Perhaps it should be noted that that idea of a Latin or Roman anti-Christ was apparently developed by Polycarp, and he seems to have learned this from the Apostle John. But it apparently was not until the late fourth century that the Bishops of Rome had enough influence and heresy to have such a resemblance to the final antichrist.)

Paulicians Were Persecuted for Opposing Idolatry

The Catholic Encyclopedia calls the Paulicians heretics because they were basically against idolatry and Roman Catholic ritualism:

The Paulicians, as part of their heresy held that all matter (especially the human body) is bad, that all external religious forms, sacraments, rites, especially material pictures and relics, should be abolished. To honour the Cross was especially reprehensible (Fortescue A. Iconoclasm. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler.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).

Amazingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about the Paulicians:

Leo V, though an Iconoclast, tried to refute the accusation that he was a Paulician by persecuting them furiously. A great number of them at this time rebelled and fled to the Saracens. Sergius was killed in 835. Theodora, regent for her son Michael III, continued the persecution…

We hear continually of wars against the Saracens, Armenians, and Paulicians…

This eliminated the sect as a military power. Meanwhile other Paulicians, heretics but not rebels, lived in groups throughout the empire (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Richard L. George. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, since the Paulicians and Emperor Leo V were against idols, Leo decided he had to persecute them because he was accused of being a bit like them in that area. And additional persecution followed Leo’s. The above quote also shows that there were Paulicians, who even though persecuted, would not fight back. This is because those truly in the Church of God were opposed to military participation (please see article Military Service and the COGs).

And while not all who claimed to have been Paulicians were in the true church, notice how brutal the persecution was:

The empress, Theodora, instituted a new persecution, in which a hundred thousand Paulicians in Grecian Armenia are said to have lost their lives (Paulicianism. WIkipedia, viewed 06/26/08).

Thus, the “Orthodox” Empress Theodora apparently killed 100,000!

Furthermore, note this historical writing about the Paulicians in Armenia:

From the earliest ages they have devoutly hated the error and idolatry of the Greeks. Like the primitive Christians, they have ever exhibited an unconquerable repugnance to the use or abuse of images, which, in the eighth and ninth centuries spread like a leposy…and supplanted all traces of genuine piety in the visible church…They are decidedly adverse (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 24).

Thus the followers of the true church were persecuted for beliefs such as opposing idolatry.

Paulicians Did Not Keep Sunday or Greco-Roman Holidays

The historian, Fred C. Conybeare observed this about some affiliated with the Paulicians:

They are accused by their Armenian opponents of setting at naught all the feasts and fasts of the Church, especially Sunday…The Sabbath was perhaps kept…Of the modern Christmas and of the Annunciation, and of the other feasts connected with the life of Jesus prior to his thirtieth year, this phase of the church knew nothing. The general impression which the study of it leaves on us is that in it we have before us a form of Church not very remote from the primitive Jewish Christianity of Palestine (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, pp. clii, cxciii).

It would be logical that Paulicians would be opposed to Sunday and the other festivals of the Roman Church.

Noted historian K.S. Latourette wrote,

“for centuries even many Gentile Christians also observed the seventh day, or Sabbath” (Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1, Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, p.198).

And Sabbath-keeping has existed throughout history (even Roberts and Donaldson refer to it in the 1800s).

Paulicians Were Believed to Have Preserved Pure Early Christianity

Like the Romans, the Paulicians condemned Simon Magus:

But Simon himself believed and was baptized and rose up against Philip in trickery and charlanatry, in order to obtain the power of the holy spirit by deceit (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 92)

Unlike certain Romans, the true “Pergamos era” Paulicians did not have any the heretical practices associated with Simon such as statues, revering a woman (Simon’s “wife” and later Mary), the doctrine of the immortal soul, incantations, mystic priests, claiming divine titles for leaders, accepting money for religious favors, preferring allegory and tradition over many aspects of scripture, having a leader who wanted to be thought of as God/Christ on earth, and being divorced from Christian biblical practices considered to be Jewish, (detailed information on what the Bible and mainly Roman sources wrote about Simon is found in the article Simon Magus, What Did He Teach?).

The following is from the Catholic Priest Basil Sarkisean’s work Manichaean Paulician Heresy and is from a 987 A.D. letter written by Gregory of Narek against the Paulicians (note I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

Then among the observances which we know to have been repudiated by them as neither apostolic or divine the mysterious prayers of genuflexion…

The Font is denied by them…

the communion of immortality…is denied…

We know that they deny the adored sign, which God, made man, raised and carried on his shoulders (Conybeare F.C. Addendix I in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 127).

Perhaps I should add that Gregory of Narek called a man “valiant…who destroyed and put to death their cursed ancestors” (ibid, p.128).

The following from the late fourth century, by Gregory of Nyssa suggests that the Manichaean/Paulicians did accept the Father and Son as God, but not the Holy Spirit, hence they held a binitarian view:

I am aware, too, that the Manichees go about vaunting the name of Christ. Because they hold revered the Name to which we bow the knee, shall we therefore number them amongst Christians? So, too, he who both believes in the Father and receives the Son, but sets aside the Majesty of the Spirit, has “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” and belies the name of Christ which he bears (Gregory of Nyssa. On the Holy Spirit, Against the Macedonians. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1893. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

A related article of interest may be Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote:

The Bogomils…Its doctrine of God is highly dualistic…There is no True Trinity (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 251).

One of their so-called “dualistic” teachings was that this is Satan’s world. One scholar noted that an:

…important idea of Bogomils and Cathars, i.e. that this world is the kingdom of the devil (Vassilev, Georgi. DUALISTIC IDEAS IN THE WORKS OF WILLIAM TYNDALE. ACADEMIE BULGARE DES SCIENCES. INSTITUT D’ETUDES BALKANIQUES. ETUDES BALKANIQUES, n° 1, 2003: 124-142).

Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

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

The following is apparently from the work History of Armenia by Chamich and is from a 1054-1058 A.D. letter written by Gregory Magistros against the Manichaean (note I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

…they represent our worship of God as worship of idol. As if we, who honour the sign of the cross and the holy pictures, were still engaged in worshiping devils (Conybeare F.C. Addend ix III in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 149).

It is of historical interest to note the following doctrinal admissions in the article on the Paulicians in The Catholic Encyclopedia (bolding mine) :

They honoured not the Cross, but only the book of the Gospel. They were Iconoclasts, rejecting all pictures…

The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy is bad, as also all Sacraments and ritual. They had a special aversion to monks…

Since Gibbon the Paulicians have often been described as a survival of early and pure Christianity, godly folk who clung to the Gospel, rejecting later superstitions, who were grossly calumniated by their opponents…

In Armenia the sect continued in the “Thonraketzi” founded by a certain Smbat in the ninth century. Conybeare attributes to this Smbat a work, “The Key of Truth”, which he has edited. It accepts the Old Testament and the Sacraments of Baptism. Penance, and the Eucharist. This work especially has persuaded many writers that the Paulicians were much maligned people. But in any case it represents a very late stage of their history, and it is disputed whether it is really Paulician at all.

Edward Gibbon was a British historian who was not in any Church of God. Yet apparently because of his historical research, even outsiders have concluded that some of the Paulicians (not all, however, held true doctrine) were a remnant of the true church.

Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia article also admits:

The emperor Alexius Comnenus is credited with having put an end to the heresy. During a residence at Philippopolis, he argued with them and converted all, or nearly all, back to the Church (so his daughter: “Alexias”, XV, 9). From this time the Paulicians practically disappear from history. But they left traces of their heresy. In Bulgaria the Bogomile sect, which lasted through the Middle Ages and spread to the West in the form of Cathari, Albigenses, and other Manichaean heresies, is a continuation of Paulicianism. In Armenia, too, similar sects, derived from them, continue till our own time.

Notice that even some Roman Catholic scholars know that it is possible that the Paulicians were the survivors of an early and pure Christianity and that they had spiritual descendants that continued into the future (such as those within the Thyatira era), as well into modern times! The Cathari were also known to be pacifists, as well the faithful among the Paulicians (of course there were many called by those names that were not faithful).

Comments from Other Researchers

The late John Ogywn made the following comments:

According to Armenian scholar Nina Garsoian in The Paulician Heresy: “It would, then, appear that the Paulicians are to be taken as the survival of the earlier form of Christianity in Armenia” (p. 227). The author also states that the Paulicians were “accused of being worse than other sects because of adding Judaism” (p. 213).

Christ’s message to this third stage of God’s Church (Paulicians) is characterized by the Church at Pergamos (Revelation 2:12–17). The word Pergamos means “fortified,” and the Church members of this era were noted for dwelling in remote, mountainous areas…

At some point in their history, however, many Paulicians succumbed to a fatal error. They reasoned that they could outwardly conform with many of the practices of the Catholic Church in order to avoid persecution as long as in their heart they knew better. This road of compromise led many to have their children christened and others to attend mass. Christ prophesied of this, admonishing the Church at Pergamos about those who held to pagan, immoral doctrines (Revelation 2:14–15)…

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. They were placed there as a bulwark against the invading Bulgar tribes. Relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils.

What did these Bogomils teach? “Baptism was only to be practiced on grown men and women… images and crosses were idols” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., “Bogomils”).

So, while many called Paulician compromised, some did hold to Church of God doctrines.

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote:

…in Slavoni, the name “Bomomil” means “beloved of God”…The specific predecessors of the Bogomils are the Paulicians…Many Bogomils, and especially their leaders, exhibited a zeal and a purity of life that contrasted with the indifference and frivolity of all too many orthodox ecclestiastics in both East and West…Like the Paulicians, the Bogomils detested the cross, for it was the symbol of the Saviour’s apparent murder (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 247,252).

He also noted that the Bogomils were pacifists (Ibid p.260).

In the introduction to his English translation of The Key of Truth, F.C. Conybeare provides this quote on the practices of the early Paulicians:

John of Otzun’s language perhaps implies that the old believers in Armenia during the seventh century were Quartodecimans, as we should expect them to be (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. clii).

…they were probably the remnant of an old Judeo-Christian Church, which had spread up through Edessa into Siuniq and Albania” (ibid, p. clxii).

We also know from a notice preserved by Ananias of Shirak that the Pauliani, who were the same people at an earlier date, called Quartodecimans, and kept Passover at the Jewish date:

But the Paulini also keep the feast of the Pascha on the same day (as the Jews), whatever be the day of the full moon, they call it Kuriaki, as the Jews call it Sabbath, even though it be not a Sabbath (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. clii).

It should be mentioned that “Quartodecimans” are those who follow the biblical and apostolic example of observing the Passover on the 14th day of Nisan.

Concluding Thoughts

“Paulicians” were a label that Alexandrian and Roman supporters apparently labeled certain opponents with. Apparently those who were labeled as Paulician did not accept the authority of the Bishops of Rome, were opposed to Sunday as the designated day of worship, were opposed to idols, eschewed certain Roman rituals, seemingly had binitarian views of the Godhead, considered that those who took up the title Pontifex Maximus took a title that would be associated with Antichrist, kept Passover on the 14th, and they were persecuted.

Many, because of persecution and economic pressures apparently compromised, and some apostasized to the point of engaging in carnal warfare. While those who did that were not true part of the Church of God, there were apparently some of the faithful amongst those labeled as Paulicians.

And that is how it is even today. While we in the Continuing Church of God, for example, are not Protestant, Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics tend to lump us in with the Protestants as we do not accept the various doctrinal compromises that the Catholics have made. (for documentation, please see Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?). While we, like the Protestants claim, do believe in sola Scriptura, do not endorse the use of statues in worship, and eschew certain ritualistic aspects of the Greco-Romans, this does not make us Protestant any more than having Church of God doctrines made people “Paulicians.”

But it could be properly stated that we in the Continuing Church of God count among our spiritual ancestors some who were called Paulicians. And we believe that we have faithfully been carrying out the original Christian faith as was practiced by the original apostles and their most faithful successors.

Some articles of related interest may include:

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?
News Articles Related to Church History This link is to articles on Church history that were once published on the COG News Page.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
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?
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?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots.  They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? What about the use of the cross, by the early Church?
Did The Early Christian Church Practice Monasticism? Or was monsticism unheard of in the early Christian church?
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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.

Pope Francis speaks of Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, & Mary but needs a lesson about the original faith

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015


Orthodox Church in ‘Lenten Vestments,’ Czech Republic (Frettie)

COGwriter

Pope Francis taught the following:

February 22, 2015

Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Wednesday, Lent began with the Rite of Ashes, and today is the first Sunday of this liturgical time that makes reference to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, after his baptism in the Jordan River. …

And in the end of the Lenten itinerary, in the Easter Vigil, we can renew with greater awareness the Baptismal covenant and the commitments that flow from it. May the Blessed Virgin, model of docility to the Spirit, help us to let ourselves be led by Him, who wishes to make each of us a “new creature.”  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-crossing-the-lenten-desert

To many Roman Catholics all of that probably seemed fine.  Many probably considered it to the inspirational.  But this is not inspired by God, nor was Pope Francis teaching the original faith.

Notice what Saint Jude wrote from a Catholic-approved translation of the Bible:

3 I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 3, Douay-Rheims)

So let’s see if he was contending for the faith once delivered to the saints when he promoted Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and the Blessed Virgin.

Notice that he mentioned Lent and tried to tie it in with Jesus spending 40 days in the desert.  While it is true that Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert, scriptural indications are that this would have been in the Fall and not the Spring.  How can that be determined?

Eusebius, the Greco-Roman “father of church history,” taught that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 1/2 years. Since Jesus was killed in the Spring, going back 3 1/2 years puts the beginning in the Fall. Since Jesus was killed in the Spring, going back 3 1/2 years puts the beginning in the Fall.

Notice also the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The chronology of the public life offers a number of problems to the interpreter…

But a comparison of St. John’s Gospel with the Synoptic Evangelists seems to introduce another pasch, indicated in the Fourth Gospel, into Christ’s public life. John 4:45, relates the return of Jesus into Galilee after the first pasch of His public life in Jerusalem, and the same event is told by Mark 1:14, and Luke 4:14. Again the pasch mentioned in John 6:4 has its parallel in the “green grass” of Mark 6:39, and in the multiplication of loaves as told in Luke 9:12 sqq. But the plucking of ears mentioned in Mark 2:23, and Luke 6:1, implies another paschal season intervening between those expressly mentioned in John 2:13 and 6:4. This shows that the public life of Jesus must have extended over four paschs, so that it must have lasted three years and a few months. Though the Fourth Gospel does not indicate this fourth pasch as clearly as the other three, it is not wholly silent on the question. The “festival day of the Jews” mentioned in John 5:1, has been identified with the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Expiation, the Feast of the New Moon, the Feast of Purim, the Feast of Dedication, by various commentators; others openly confess that they cannot determine to which of the Jewish feasts this festival day refers. Nearly all difficulties will disappear if the festival day be regarded as the pasch, as both the text (heorte) and John 4:35 seem to demand (cf. Dublin Review, XXIII, 351 sqq.). (Maas, Anthony. “Chronology of the Life of Jesus Christ.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 22 Feb. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08377a.htm>)

So, between 3 years and a few months to less than four years, is consistent with the belief that Jesus ministry lasted about 3 1/2 years.
Presuming that Jesus began His ministry on the Feast of Trumpets, the beginning of the Jewish civil ‘new year,’ and ended on Passover, it would have lasted about 3 1/2 years.

Here is how The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Lent:

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season (Thurston H. Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. A.M.D.G. Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, Lent means the Spring season (it may be of interest to note that Easter is a Teutonic word as well).

But since Lent means Spring and Lent now begins and is primarily in the Winter, where did it really come from?

Certainly not from the Bible!

Notice that The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that the claim by some that this was observed by the Apostles is unfounded:

Some of the Fathers as early as the fifth century supported the view that this forty days’ fast was of Apostolic institution…But the best modern scholars are almost unanimous in rejecting this view…Formerly some difference of opinion existed as to the proper reading, but modern criticism (e.g., in the edition of Schwartz commissioned by the Berlin Academy) pronounces strongly in favor of the text translated above. We may then fairly conclude that Irenaeus about the year 190 knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days…And there is the same silence observable in all the pre-Nicene Fathers, though many had occasion to mention such an Apostolic institution if it had existed. We may note for example that there is no mention of Lent in St. Dionysius of Alexandria (ed. Feltoe, 94 sqq.) or in the “Didascalia”, which Funk attributes to about the year 250 (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Notice what the Catholic Socrates Scholasticus admitted around the beginning of the fifth century:

The fasts before Easter will be found to be differently observed among different people. Those at Rome fast three successive weeks before Easter, excepting Saturdays and Sundays. Those in Illyrica and all over Greece and Alexandria observe a fast of six weeks, which they term ‘The forty days’ fast.’ Others commencing their fast from the seventh week before Easter, and fasting three five days only, and that at intervals, yet call that time ‘The forty days’ fast.’ It is indeed surprising to me that thus differing in the number of days, they should both give it one common appellation; but some assign one reason for it, and others another, according to their several fancies. One can see also a disagreement about the manner of abstinence from food, as well as about the number of days. Some wholly abstain from things that have life: others feed on fish only of all living creatures: many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, Genesis 1:20 these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits: others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this: while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction. And among various nations there are other usages, for which innumerable reasons are assigned. Since however no one can produce a written command as an authority, it is evident that the apostles left each one to his own free will in the matter, to the end that each might perform what is good not by constraint or necessity. Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Volume V, Chapter 22).

Since the Babylonians took over the Greeks and the Egyptians, that may have been when they started this practice.

Notice:

But the original length of the fast, traced back to Babylon was a “forty-days” fast in the spring of the year (Laynard’s Nineveh and Babylon, chapter 4, page 93). That is why it bore its name of “40 days”! (Hoeh, H. Did Jesus Observe Lent? Plain Truth. February 1982, p. 30).

It is likely that the idea of a forty-day fast came from Alexandria in Egypt or from Greece.

The historian Alexander Hislop apparently felt so as he wrote:

The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, “in the spring of the year,” is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans, for thus we read in Humboldt, where he gives account of Mexican observances: “Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.” Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt, as may be seen on consulting Wilkinson’s Egyptians. This Egyptian Lent of forty days, we are informed by Landseer, in his Sabean Researches, was held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god. At the same time, the rape of Proserpine seems to have been commemorated, and in a similar manner; for Julius Firmicus informs us that, for “forty nights” the “wailing for Proserpine” continued; and from Arnobius we learn that the fast which the Pagans observed, called “Castus” or the “sacred” fast, was, by the Christians in his time, believed to have been primarily in imitation of the long fast of Ceres, when for many days she determinedly refused to eat on account of her “excess of sorrow,” that is, on account of the loss of her daughter Proserpine, when carried away by Pluto…

Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the Christian festival, being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz”; in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April. To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity–now far sunk in idolatry–in this as in so many other things, to shake hands…

Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the “sacred fast” or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, “went down to Egypt for help” to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate Church, and who could find no more excellent way to “revive” it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown; and even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that, in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of Paganism. What may have been the period of fasting in the Roman Church before sitting of the Nicene Council does not very clearly appear, but for a considerable period after that Council, we have distinct evidence that it did not exceed three weeks (Hislop A. Two Babylons. pp. 104-106).

Hence we see that the so-called Christian observance of Lent is apparently a continuation of widespread ancient pagan practices that were subtly incorporated into mainstream Christianity over the centuries.

It should be noted that the Bible condemns practices associated with pagan worship, such as those that involved Tammuz:

And He said to me, “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.” So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD’s house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:13-14).

Essentially, mourning for Tammuz could include fasting of some type for some time.

The Orthodox Catholic apologist Arnobius (died 330) warned against the type of fasts that pagans had and even seemed to warn about a Mardi Gras banquet followed by a fast:

What say you, O wise sons of Erectheus? what, you citizens of Minerva? The mind is eager to know with what words you will defend what it is so dangerous to maintain, or what arts you have by which to give safety to personages and causes wounded so mortally. This is no false mistrust, nor are you assailed with lying accusations: the infamy of your Eleusinia is declared both by their base beginnings and by the records of ancient literature, by the very signs, in fine, which you use when questioned in receiving the sacred things,—” I have fasted, and drunk the draught; I have taken out of the mystic cist, and put into the wicker-basket; I have received again, and transferred to the little chest” (Arnobius. Against the Heathen, Book V, Chapter 26).

The feast of Jupiter is tomorrow. Jupiter, I suppose, dines, and must be satiated with great banquets, and long filled with eager cravings for food by fasting, and hungry after the usual interval (Against the Heathen, Book VII, Chapter 32).

Hislop believed that Arnobius was teaching against what became known as Lent (Two Babylons, p. 106). Perhaps it should be noted that in the late 2nd century, Tertullian also warned against “Christians” participating in events that also honored Minerva (please see the article Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate?).

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

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

Notice that he admits that “the primitive church” did not keep Lent!

What about Ash Wednesday?

It also is not from the Bible nor was it kept by the original Christians.  The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

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

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead (Ash Wednesday. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia states:

Ash Wednesday, in the Western Church, the first day of Lent, being the seventh Wednesday before Easter. On this day ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful to remind them of death, of the sorrow they should feel for their sins, and of the necessity of changing their lives. The practice, which dates from the early Middle Ages, is common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Episcopalians, and many Lutherans; it was also adopted by some Methodists and Presbyterians in the 1990s (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press).

Notice that Ash Wednesday was not an original observance of even the Church of Rome, it is another one of the many changes that church adopted that the true Church of God did not (for more details, please see Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?).

Now here is another Catholic-approved translation of that verse he asked about:

16 ‘When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. (Matthew 6:16, NJB)

Thus, Jesus seems to denounce practices that resemble Ash Wednesday.

What about Easter?

Easter itself is not a Christian term but comes from paganism:

The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity…Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh. (Holweck F. G. Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York)

ISHTAR was one of the most prominent of the deities of the Accadian and Assyrian Pantheon. Se was the Assyrian goddess of Love. She was the…Ashtoreth of the Jews or Hebrews. She is the planetary Venus, and in general features corresponds with the classical goddess of Love. Her name Ishtar is that by which she was known in Assyria, and the same name prevailed, with slight modifications, among the Semite nations generally. In Babylonia the goddess was known as Nana…

She may be identified with Eostre of the Germans, or Easter. To this goddess our Saxon or German ancestors sacrificed in April, which was therefore by them styled…Eostur-monath, and from thence arose our word Easter, which the Saxons retained after their conversion to Christianity, so that our Easter-day is nothing more nor less than Ishtar’s day…The name became attached by association of ideas to the Christian festival of the Resurrection (of Christ), which happened at the time of the passover…The English name Easter, and the German Ostern, are derived from the name of the Teutonic goddess Ostera (Anglo-Saxon Eostre), whose festival was celebrated by the ancient Saxons with peculiar solemnities in the month of April; and for which, as in many other instances, the first Romish missionaries substituted the paschal feast.” The Council of Nice “ordained (A.D. 325) that it should be kept always on a Sunday.” Thus we find that it was originally the festival of Ishtar, and occurred on the Sabatu of Elul, or the festival Sabbath of the Assyrians, which occurred in August or harvest time; and that it afterwards became united with the passover or paschal feast of the Jews, and finally adopted by the Christian Church as the Easter Sabbath, changing the date to the spring or seed time, or in April from the harvest month or August. Among the Assyrians it was the feast day of Ishtar and Nergal…

The Phoenician name of Ishtar was Astarte, the later Mendaean form of which was Ashtar. She was called Jeremiah, “the queen of heaven,” Jer. vii, 18, and xliv. 17-25…she was sometimes called “the goddess of the chase,” corresponding to Diana as well as Venus, the goddess of love. Mr. George Rawlinson says: “The worship of Ishtar was widespread, and her shrines were numerous. She is often called the “queen of Babylon”…It may be suspected that her symbol was the naked female form…(Hamilton LLC note. Ishtar and Izdubar, the epic of Babylon; or, The Babylonian goddess of love and the hero and warrior king, restored in mod. verse by L.L.C. Hamilton. 1884 Original from Oxford University Digitized Jun 19, 2007, pp. 207-208)

Paganism…it was precisely in these cults that the worst perversions existed. Ishtar, Astarte, and Cybele had their male and female prostitutes, their Galli: Josiah had to cleanse the temple of Yahweh of their booths (cf. the Qedishim and Kelabim, Deuteronomy 23:17; 2 Samuel 23:7; cf. 1 Samuel 14:24; 15:12), and even in the Greek world, where prostitution was not else regarded as religious, Eryx and Corinth at least were contaminated by Semitic influence, which Greece could not correct. (Martindale, Cyril Charles. “Paganism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 17 Feb. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11388a.htm>)

Ishtar is pronounced about the same as the English term Easter.

Early Christians did NOT celebrate Easter.  They observed Passover as a memorial of Jesus’ death.

Perhaps I should also mention that although the Eastern Orthodox Church shown above has ‘lenten vestments,’ these vestments do not come from the Bible, nor did early Christians use these type of vestments.  They did not become in use until after the compromises with tje follower of Mithras, Roman Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century.

What about appealing to the blessed Mary?  Was that a practice of early Christians?

No.

The Catholic Encyclopedia that confirms that:

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

Should Christians appeal to Mary as a mediator?

No.

Notice what a Catholic-approved translation of the Bible teaches:

5 For there is one God, one also mediator of God and men, man Christ JESUS (1 Timothy 2:5, RNT).

Thus any others who claim there is another mediator clearly contradict the Bible and CANNOT BE SERVING THE CHRISTIAN GOD.

Those who truly wish to observe the practices of the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) will not observe Lent, celebrate Ash Wednesday, pray to Mary, nor observe Easter.  They would keep the same days and practices of the original church.

Pope Francis, and those who believe certain portions of his message today, need to study the Bible and the lessons of history and change.

Some items of possible interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
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.
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Did Jesus celebrate Carnaval? Where did it come from? There is also a related YouTube video Mardi Gras & Carnaval: Are they for Christians?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? Where did Easter come from? What do scholars and the Bible reveal? Here is a link to a video titled Why Easter?
What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion Week’? How long are three days and three nights? Was Palm Sunday on a Saturday? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Murió Jesús un día miércoles o un viernes?)
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? Where did Easter come from? What do scholars and the Bible reveal? Here is a link to a video titled Why Easter?
Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria? Where did the eucharistic host and IHS come from?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
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?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy. Here is a link to a sermon video: Why Learn About Fatima?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Papias held COG views that oppose that Church of Rome

Saturday, February 21st, 2015


Hierapolis, Turkey (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

The Catholics of Rome consider February 22nd as the day to honor Papius of Hierapolis. This is somewhat odd in that Papius held Church of God, not Church of Rome views. One of which, the current Catechism of the Catholic Church considers to be a doctrine of antichrist.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that Papias was,

Bishop of Hierapolis (close to Laodicea and Colossae in the valley of the Lycus in Phrygia) and Apostolic Father, called by St. Irenaeus “a hearer of John, and companion of Polycarp, a man of old time”. He wrote a work in five books, logion kyriakon exegesis, of which all but some fragments is lost…Of Papias’s life nothing is known. If Polycarp was born in 69, his “comrade” may have been born a few years earlier…The work of Papias was evidently written in his old age, say between the years 115 and 140 “…His knowledge of St. John’s Gospel is proved not merely by his mention of aloes, but by a citation of John 14:2, which occurs in the curious prophecy of a miraculous vintage in the millennium which he attributed to Our Lord…

Eusebius says that Papias frequently cited traditions of John…Eusebius says Papias “published a story of a woman accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews”. This appears to refer to the pericope adulterae (John 8). The cause of the loss of this precious work of an Apostolic Father was the chiliastic view which he taught, like St. Justin and St. Irenæus. (Chapman J. Transcribed by Marcia L. Bellafiore. St. Papias. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Since John and Polycarp were quartodecimans (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24), apparently so was Papias (since the churches in Asia Minor had not adopted a Sunday Passover at this time, Ibid). Yet, being a Quartodeciman was seriously denounced by an edict of Theodosius in the late fourth century.

Papias and John

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about Papias the the Apostle John,

The author of the Second and Third Epistles of John designates himself in the superscription of each by the name (ho presbyteros), “the ancient”, “the old”. Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, also uses the same name to designate the “Presbyter John” as in addition to Aristion, his particular authority, directly after he has named the presbyters Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, and Matthew (in Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, III, xxxix, 4)…St. Irenaeus also positively designates the Apostle and Evangelist John as the teacher of Papias, and neither he nor any other writer before Eusebius had any idea of a second John in Asia (Adv. haer., V, xxxiii, 4). In what Papias himself says the connection plainly shows that in this passage by the word presbyters only Apostles can be understood. If John is mentioned twice the explanation lies in the peculiar relationship in which Papias stood to this, his most eminent teacher. By inquiring of others he had learned some things indirectly from John, just as he had from the other Apostles referred to. In addition he had received information concerning the teachings and acts of Jesus directly, without the intervention of others, from the still living “Presbyter John”, as he also had from Aristion. Thus the teaching of Papias casts absolutely no doubt upon what the New-Testament writings presuppose and expressly mention concerning the residence of the Evangelist John in Asia (Fonck L. Transcribed by Michael Little. St. John the Evangelist. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, it appears that Papias directly knew the Apostle John. The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation which, among other things, described a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth (Revelation 20:4).

Eusebius recorded the following about Papias:

1. There are extant five books of Papias, which bear the title Expositions of Oracles of the Lord. Irenæus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: “These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him.” These are the words of Irenæus.
2. But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.
3. He says: But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretations whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth; not in those that relate strange commandments, but in those that deliver the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and springing from the truth itself.
4. If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders— what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.
5. It is worth while observing here that the name John is twice enumerated by him. The first one he mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and the rest of the apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist; but the other John he mentions after an interval, and places him among others outside of the number of the apostles, putting Aristion before him, and he distinctly calls him a presbyter.
6. This shows that the statement of those is true, who say that there were two persons in Asia that bore the same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus, each of which, even to the present day, is called John’s. It is important to notice this. For it is probable that it was the second, if one is not willing to admit that it was the first that saw the Revelation, which is ascribed by name to John.
7. And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things, we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.
8. But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.
9. That Philip the apostle dwelt at Hierapolis with his daughters has been already stated. But it must be noted here that Papias, their contemporary, says that he heard a wonderful tale from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that in his time one rose from the dead. And he tells another wonderful story of Justus, surnamed Barsabbas: that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.
10. The Book of Acts records that the holy apostles after the ascension of the Saviour, put forward this Justus, together with Matthias, and prayed that one might be chosen in place of the traitor Judas, to fill up their number. The account is as follows: “And they put forward two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias; and they prayed and said.” Acts 1:23 11. The same writer gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things.
12. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures.
13. For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Irenæus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.
14. Papias gives also in his own work other accounts of the words of the Lord on the authority of Aristion who was mentioned above, and traditions as handed down by the presbyter John; to which we refer those who are fond of learning. But now we must add to the words of his which we have already quoted the tradition which he gives in regard to Mark, the author of the Gospel.
15. “This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.” These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.
16. But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: “So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.” And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. And he relates another story of a woman, who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. These things we have thought it necessary to observe in addition to what has been already stated. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book 3, Chapter XXXIX; Digireads, pp. 68-69)

So, this “Catholic saint” taught the millennium–a doctrine that is now denounced by the Vatican as associated with Antichrist (see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).

Papias would have observed Passover on the 14th of Nisan instead of a Sunday. Neither Papias nor other early Christian leaders observed Lent nor Easter.

The Roman Catholic Church, in spite of the fact that it admits that many of its early saints taught the millennium, now strongly condemns this belief. Notice:

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

It should be noted that the millennial teaching appears to be the only doctrine associated with Antichrist that is condemned in the current official Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is the first new one in hundreds of years). The one that has the imprimatur of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who is now called Pope Emeritus and was Pope Benedict XVI.

Notice something else that Joseph Ratzinger wrote in a paper titled The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure prior to becoming pope:

“…both Chiliasm [the teaching of the Millennium] and Montanism were declared heretical and were excluded from the universal church; for they both denied this vision [the "Christ is the end of the ages" vision] and awaited still another period of more definitive salvation to follow after the age of Christ” (as cited in Birch, pp. 515-516; note the comments within [] were from the Catholic writer Birch).

This is an odd statement for several reasons. It was the leaders in Asia Minor who stood for the Millennium and were the first to oppose Montanism–whom the Roman Catholics originally tolerated (please see the article Location of the Early Church)–hence the belief in one is NOT necessarily related to the other.

The other reason this condemnation is odd, is that even though Origen was opposed to the millennium Origen also taught that there was definitive salvation after what then Cardinal Ratzinger calls “the age of Christ” (please see the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism). Yet pontiff emeritus Benedict XVI has publicly praised Origin as a “true teacher” (for documentation, see What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?).

It appears to me that the millennial view is being so definitely condemned now, because we are getting so close to that time when the Church of Rome is expected to compromise more and the Pope has prepared his followers to do that. It seems like the final revised Roman Church intends to warn against following any (like the actual two witnesses) who will be teaching the original millennial doctrine. Of course, there still are Catholics who accept the biblical teaching on the millennium–but they are becoming more and more of a minority within their church.

Despite any Catholic observance in Papias’ honor, the reality is that based on what is actually known about Papias, he had views closer to the hurch of God, than the current Church of Rome.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Papias Papias died circa 135-145 and oversaw churches from Hierapolis. This article has many of his writings that are not in today’s post.
Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism? Was the millennium (sometimes called chiliasm) taught by early Christians? Who condemned it? Will Jesus literally reign for 1000 years on the earth? Is this time near?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer.
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?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: 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?

Does the office of ‘Cardinal’ come from the Bible or somewhere else?

Friday, February 20th, 2015


Cardinal Vestments

COGwriter

Cardinals hold a high position in the Church of Rome.

In recent times, popes have held the office of cardinal prior to their election as pontifex maximus (a none biblical title that came from paganism).

The term ‘cardinal’ is not found in any version of the Holy Bible.

As far as cardinals go, the word comes a term meaning hinge from according to the Houghton Mifflin dictionary and The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Latin, serving as a hinge, from card, cardin-, hinge (http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/cardinal)

By the term cardinal (Cardinalis)…an ecclesiastical cardo (Lat. for hinge). (Sägmüller, Johannes Baptist. “Cardinal.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 22 Feb. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03333b.htm>.)

Why is that important?

Two reasons.

First, this term does not come from the Bible (I also did a search of the Douay Rheims, and it is not in there either).

Second, it comes from paganism.

Here is some of what Alexander Hislop reported about that:

If there be any who imagine that there is some occult and mysterious virtue in an apostolic succession that comes through the Papacy, let them seriously consider the real character of the Pope’s own orders, and of those of his bishops and clergy. From the Pope downwards, all can be shown to be now radically Babylonian. The College of Cardinals, with the Pope at its head, is just the counterpart of the Pagan College of Pontiffs, with its “Pontifex Maximus,” or “Sovereign Pontiff,” which had existed in Rome from the earliest times, and which is known to have been framed on the model of the grand original Council of Pontiffs at Babylon. The Pope now pretends to supremacy in the Church as the successor of Peter, to whom it is alleged that our Lord exclusively committed the keys of the kingdom of heaven. But here is the important fact that, till the Pope was invested with the title, which for a thousand years had had attached to it the power of the keys of Janus and Cybele, * no such claim to pre-eminence, or anything approaching to it, was ever publicly made on his part, on the ground of his being the possessor of the keys bestowed on Peter.

* It was only in the second century before the Christian era that the worship of Cybele, under that name, was introduced into Rome; but the same goddess, under the name of Cardea, with the “power of the key,” was worshipped in Rome, along with Janus, ages before. OVID’s Fasti

Very early, indeed, did the bishop of Rome show a proud and ambitious spirit; but, for the first three centuries, their claim for superior honour was founded simply on the dignity of their see, as being that of the imperial city, the capital of the Roman world. When, however, the seat of empire was removed to the East, and Constantinople threatened to eclipse Rome, some new ground for maintaining the dignity of the Bishop of Rome must be sought. That new ground was found, when, about 378, the Pope fell heir to the keys that were the symbols of two well-known Pagan divinities at Rome. Janus bore a key, and Cybele bore a key; and these are the two keys that the Pope emblazons on his arms as the ensigns of his spiritual authority. How the Pope came to be regarded as wielding the power of these keys will appear in the sequel; but that he did, in the popular apprehension, become entitled to that power at the period referred to is certain. Now, when he had come, in the estimation of the Pagans, to occupy the place of the representatives of Janus and Cybele, and therefore to be entitled to bear their keys, the Pope saw that if he could only get it believed among the Christians that Peter alone had the power of the keys, and that he was Peter’s successor, then the sight of these keys would keep up the delusion, and thus, though the temporal dignity of Rome as a city should decay, his own dignity as the Bishop of Rome would be more firmly established than ever. On this policy it is evident he acted. Some time was allowed to pass away, and then, when the secret working of the Mystery of iniquity had prepared the way for it, for the first time did the Pope publicly assert his pre-eminence, as founded on the keys given to Peter. About 378 was he raised to the position which gave him, in Pagan estimation, the power of the keys referred to. In 432, and not before, did he publicly lay claim to the possession of Peter’s keys. This, surely, is a striking coincidence. Does the reader ask how it was possible that men could give credit to such a baseless assumption? The words of Scripture, in regard to this very subject, give a very solemn but satisfactory answer (2 Thess 2:10,11): “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved…For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Few lies could be more gross; but, in course of time, it came to be widely believed; and now, as the statue of Jupiter is worshipped at Rome as the veritable image of Peter, so the keys of Janus and Cybele have for ages been devoutly believed to represent the keys of the same apostle…

The priest who explained the Mysteries to the initiated was sometimes called by a Greek term, the Hierophant; but in primitive Chaldee, the real language of the Mysteries, his title, as pronounced without the points, was “Peter”–i.e., “the interpreter.” As the revealer of that which was hidden, nothing was more natural than that, while opening up the esoteric doctrine of the Mysteries, he should be decorated with the keys of the two divinities whose mysteries he unfolded.

Hence, from the mere jingle of words, persons and things essentially different were confounded; and Paganism and Christianity jumbled together, that the towering ambition of a wicked priest might be gratified; and so, to the blinded Christians of the apostacy, the Pope was the representative of Peter the apostle, while to the initiated pagans, he was only the representative of Peter, the interpreter of their well known Mysteries. Thus was the Pope the express counterpart of “Janus, the double-faced.” Oh! what an emphasis of meaning in the Scriptural expression, as applied to the Papacy, “The Mystery of Iniquity”! The reader will now be prepared to understand how it is that the Pope’s Grand Council of State, which assists him in the government of the Church, comes to be called the College of Cardinals. The term Cardinal is derived from Cardo, a hinge. Janus, whose key the Pope bears, was the god of doors and hinges, and was called Patulcius, and Clusius “the opener and the shutter.” This had a blasphemous meaning, for he was worshipped at Rome as the grand mediator. Whatever important business was in hand, whatever deity was to be invoked, an invocation first of all must be addressed to Janus, who was recognised as the “God of gods,” in whose mysterious divinity the characters of father and son were combined, and without that no prayer could be heard–the “door of heaven” could not be opened. It was this same god whose worship prevailed so exceedingly in Asia Minor at the time when our Lord sent, by his servant John, the seven Apocalyptic messages to the churches established in that region. And, therefore, in one of these messages we find Him tacitly rebuking the profane ascription of His own peculiar dignity to that divinity, and asserting His exclusive claim to the prerogative usually attributed to His rival. Thus, Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” Now, to this Janus, as Mediator, worshipped in Asia Minor, and equally, from very early times, in Rome, belonged the government of the world; and, “all power in heaven, in earth, and the sea,” according to Pagan ideas, was vested in him. In this character he was said to have “jus vertendi cardinis”–the “power of turning the hinge”–of opening the doors of heaven, or of opening or shutting the gates of peace or war upon earth. The Pope, therefore, when he set up as the High-priest of Janus, assumed also the “jus vertendi cardinis,” “the power of turning the hinge,”–of opening and shutting in the blasphemous Pagan sense. Slowly and cautiously at first was this power asserted; but the foundation being laid, steadily, century after century, was the grand superstructure of priestly power erected upon it. The Pagans, who saw what strides, under Papal directions, Christianity, as professed in Rome, was making towards Paganism, were more than content to recognise the Pope as possessing this power; they gladly encouraged him to rise, step by step, to the full height of the blasphemous pretensions befitting the representative of Janus–pretensions which, as all men know, are now, by the unanimous consent of Western Apostate Christendom, recognised as inherent in the office of the Bishop of Rome. To enable the Pope, however, to rise to the full plenitude of power which he now asserts, the co-operation of others was needed. When his power increased, when his dominion extended, and especially after he became a temporal sovereign, the key of Janus became too heavy for his single hand–he needed some to share with him the power of the “hinge.” Hence his privy councillors, his high functionaries of state, who were associated with him in the government of the Church and the world, got the now well known title of “Cardinals”–the priests of the “hinge.” This title had been previously borne by the high officials of the Roman Emperor, who, as “Pontifex Maximus,” had been himself the representative of Janus, and who delegated his powers to servants of his own. Even in the reign of Theodosius, the Christian Emperor of Rome, the title of Cardinal was borne by his Prime Minister. But now both the name and the power implied in the name have long since disappeared from all civil functionaries of temporal sovereigns; and those only who aid the Pope in wielding the key of Janus–in opening and shutting–are known by the title of Cardinals, or priests of the “hinge.”…

Does the Pope receive the adorations of the Cardinals? The king of Babylon, as Sovereign Pontiff, was adored in like manner…

The Papal mitre is entirely different from the mitre of Aaron and the Jewish high priests. That mitre was a turban. The two-horned mitre, which the Pope wears, when he sits on the high altar at Rome and receives the adoration of the Cardinals, is the very mitre worn by Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines and Babylonians. There were two ways in which Dagon was anciently represented. The one was when he was depicted as half-man half-fish; the upper part being entirely human, the under part ending in the tail of a fish. The other was, when, to use the words of Layard, “the head of the fish formed a mitre above that of the man, while its scaly, fan-like tail fell as a cloak behind, leaving the human limbs and feet exposed.” Of Dagon in this form Layard gives a representation in his last work; and no one who examines his mitre, and compares it with the Pope’s as given in Elliot’s Horoe, can doubt for a moment that from that, and no other source, has the pontifical mitre been derived.

The mitre/hat shown in the photo at the beginning of this post is a version of the ‘fish hat’ that Alexander Hislop says came from paganism.

The Bible shows that worshipers of Dagon were destroyed by Samson (Judges 16:23-30).

Certain of their garb were not adopted until over a 1000 years after Jesus was killed according to The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Chief among the insignia of the cardinal is the red hat, first worn by the legati a latere (cardinal envoys of the pope). It was granted to the secular cardinals by Innocent IV at the Synod of Lyons in 1245, and to the religious cardinals by Gregory XIV in 1591; the latter, it must be noted, continue to wear the distinctive habit of their order (Barmgarten, “Die Uebersendung des rothen Hutes” in “Hist. Jahrbuch”, XXVI, 99 sqq.). They also wear the red (scarlet) biretta, that was granted to them, probably, by Paul II (1464-71). They also have the right to wear scarlet, particularly a scarlet mantle, which according to tradition was probably granted them by Boniface VIII (1294-1303). They also wear a ring with a sapphire stone, and use the ombrellino that is held over them whenever they quit their carriages to accompany with bare heads the Blessed Sacrament, if perchance they meet It on their way. In their titular churches a baldacchino covers the cardinalitial throne, and they have the right to use in these churches the episcopal ornaments, i.e. the mitre of damask silk (since Paul II), the crosier and the pectoral cross. (Sägmüller, Johannes Baptist. “Cardinal.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 22 Feb. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03333b.htm>.)

Cardinals come from paganism. The vestments they wear were not adopted until at least the fourth century by the Church of Rome (see also Were the Early Duties of Elders/Pastors Mainly Sacramental? What was there Dress?). Essentially, they are a combination of remains of worship of Mithras and Dagon, and it took even more centuries for them to develop into the position that they now hold. Of course, that also helps prove that there precise position did not come from the Bible and such vestments that they use were not worn by the original Apostles nor other early Christian leaders.

Cardinals, and their garb, were adapted from paganism. This is one of the many reasons to consider that the final Antichrist will claim ties to the Church of Rome. I would like to emphasize that this leader will CLAIM ties to Rome, but ultimately will betray the Church on Seven Hills as that seems to be laid out in Revelation 13, 17, and 19.

The office of Cardinal does not come from the Bible.  It comes from paganism.  Cardinals also dress in ways that pagan leaders did, and not as the early apostles did.

Some items of related interest may include:

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 seem to 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?
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?
Will You Be Deceived by Antichrist? 1964 article by David Jon Hill, originally published in the old Good News magazine.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did the early Church use icons? What was the position of Christians about such things?
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.
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.
Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters? Some religions suggest this, but what does the Bible teach? What was the practice of the early church?
Did the Early Christian Church Practice Monasticism? Does God expect or endorse living in a monastery or nunnery?
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?
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
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.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy.
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?
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’?
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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.

Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015


Cross of Ashes

COGwriter

Tonight, some will observe Ash Wednesday and start Lent.  Lent is considered to be a time of self-imposed abstinence by millions.  Time reported the following:

February 18, 2015

What’s the purpose of Ash Wednesday?

It marks first day of the 40 days of Lent, a roughly six-week period (not including Sundays) dedicated to reflection, prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter. …

Where do the ashes some people put on their face come from?

They’re obtained from the burning of the palms of the previous Palm Sunday, which occurs on the Sunday before Easter, and applied during services. …

What do the ashes mean?

The ashes, applied in the shape of a cross, are a symbol of penance, mourning and mortality… There aren’t any particular rules about how long the ashes should be worn, but most people wear them throughout the day as a public expression of their faith and penance.  http://time.com/3713126/ash-wednesday/

So, the ashes are a public symbol?  This does not sound like repentance nor humility. Notice what a Catholic-approved translation of the Bible teaches:

16 ‘When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. (Matthew 6:16, NJB)

Thus, Jesus seems to denounce practices that resemble Ash Wednesday.  Also, it should be noted that cross was not a symbol early Christians used (see What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol?).

Furthermore, Ash Wednesday’s true origins are considered to be a mystery by those who observe it. It was not observed by Jesus, the original apostles, nor any in the early Church. Ash Wednesday is not mentioned in either the Hebrew or Greek scriptures,  commonly known as the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Despite that, notice the following from the 1988 circular letter on Lent and Easter “Paschales Solemnitatis,” issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship of the Church of Rome:

“21. On the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent, the faithful receive the ashes, thus entering into the time established for the purification of their souls. This sign of penance, a traditionally biblical one, has been preserved among the Church’s customs until the present day. It signifies the human condition of the sinner, who seeks to express his guilt before the Lord in an exterior manner, and by so doing express his interior conversion, led on by the confident hope that the Lord will be merciful. This same sign marks the beginning of the way of conversion, which is developed through the celebration of the sacraments of penance during the days before Easter.” (As cited in McNamara E, Priest.  Ashes Earlier. Zenit, March 4, 2014. http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/ashes-earlier)

No one in the Old or New Testaments was ever recorded as putting ashes on their foreheads in a shape of a cross.  Yet, also notice the following claims from the Shorter Book of Blessings by the Church of Rome:

1059. The season of Lent begins with the ancient practice of marking the baptized with ashes as a public and communal sign of penance. The blessing and distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday normally takes place during the celebration of Mass. (As cited in McNamara E, Priest.  Ashes Earlier. Zenit, March 4, 2014. http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/ashes-earlier)

The Bible does not show that the baptized received ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.  Furthermore, this is not part of the early traditions of Christians.  It seems to have been a practice of pagans, however.

One who believes in Ash Wednesday once sent me the following two weeks ago:

Ash Wednesday is approaching and with it the rite of the imposition of ashes on the foreheads…

My question is, why does the gospel for Ash Wednesday include the reading of Jesus’s words forbidding the imposition of ashes?

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Isn’t this strange, that we should do something that Jesus has forbidden and at the same time read out ceremonially his words forbidding it?

I have asked Anglican and Catholic priests about this but they have offered no answers. Can you suggest any?

Here is another Catholic-approved translation of that verse he asked about:

16 ‘When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. (Matthew 6:16, NJB)

In addition to providing other information, I also responded to the emailer with the following:

While you are correct that people in the Old Testament used ashes as part of their sorrowing, there was no ceremony in the New Testament that encouraged this.  And as you pointed out, Ash Wednesday seems to be in opposition to the principle that Jesus espoused in Matthew 6:16…

As far as why Rome violates various passages of scripture, Rome and others have often changed doctrines from the Bible and the practices of the apostles.  An article that documents this, that probably contains a lot you would be surprised about, would be: Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?

Ash Wednesday certainly is not from the Bible.

Yet, in the past, even Episcopalians have been advocating Ash Wednesday:

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church offers commuters ‘Ashes to Go’ at Beverly Depot station

“We think there is an unmet desire for people to get ashes on Ash Wednesday that cannot make it to a regular service because it’s a workday,” Perrott said in an interview yesterday. “We thought going to a train station and offering ‘Ashes to Go’ will meet that need.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

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

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead…There can be no doubt that the custom of distributing the ashes to all the faithful arose from a devotional imitation of the practice observed in the case of public penitents. (Ash Wednesday. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Thus, Ash Wednesday is believed by the Church of Rome to be related to following some type of public penance, though precisely from where is not clear. Ash Wednesday now marks the beginning of the Lenten season.

Notice also something from the Protestant publication calling itself Christianity Today:

The Beginning of Lent
Until the 600s, Lent began on Quadragesima (Fortieth) Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/lent.html)

So, “Ash Wednesday” apparently did not originate on a Wednesday. Of course, the entire lenten period is not from the Bible, hence it should be of no surprise that it has had various changes in its observation.

While it is true that there were some 40 day fasts in the Bible, they did not resemble Lent, they were not any type of annual practice, and the apostles never observed one as far as can be determined. The Catholic Saint Abbot John Cassian (also known as Cassianus, monk of Marseilles) in the fifth century admitted:

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

The historian A. Hislop wrote:

Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing (Hislop A. Two Babylons. pp. 104-106).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia states:

Ash Wednesday, in the Western Church, the first day of Lent, being the seventh Wednesday before Easter. On this day ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful to remind them of death, of the sorrow they should feel for their sins, and of the necessity of changing their lives. The practice, which dates from the early Middle Ages, is common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Episcopalians, and many Lutherans; it was also adopted by some Methodists and Presbyterians in the 1990s (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press).

Notice that Ash Wednesday was not an original observance of even the Church of Rome. Perhaps I should also mention that the Eastern Orthodox Church does not celebrate Ash Wednesday.

Yet, oddly, Protestant groups, like the improperly named Christianity Today seem to have endorsed it. Notice comments from three more articles at its website:

Let’s Lengthen Lent
pre-Lenten festivals such as the Mardi Gras have turned into bacchanals that have become a reproach to civilization.So what do we do? Observe Lent or ignore it?…I hope to be in my church on Ash Wednesday as a worshiper. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/marchweb-only/34.0.html)

He Is Risen so I Am Shriven

Can eating pancakes enrich Christian piety? As a part of the traditional celebration of Shrove Tuesday, I believe flapjacks can build our faith. … the understated British gather calmly in their homes on the day before Lent to fill themselves with pancakes. Why pancakes? In medieval Europe, Christians often gave up eating rich foods like meat, eggs, and milk for the 40-day period of penance, prayer, and preparation leading to Easter. The practice and duration of the ritual corresponded to Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert. …

During the Reformation, many Protestants, especially my English Puritan ancestors, dismissed Lent and Shrove Tuesday as superstitious Catholic observances aimed at earning God’s favor through human works. Thus, strict Lenten observance declined among English-speaking people.

But the palate proved mightier than the Puritans. Most Britons didn’t want to give up pancakes—even if, without an austere Lent… Lent is to Easter what Advent is to Christmas. Lent gets us in the “Easter spirit,” and helps us appreciate that Easter is theologically more significant than Christmas—even if contemporary Western culture gets it backward.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/february-web-only/he-is-risen-so-i-am-shriven.html

Lent

Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar. Like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years…(http://www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/)

Despite claiming that it is part of the “Christian calendar,” the fact is that neither Ash Wednesday nor Lent can be found to be endorsed in the Bible nor in the writings of the early followers of Jesus. Obviously, many of those at the falsely named Christianity Today do not believe in sola Scriptura.  Consistent with the current ecumenical movement, more and more Protestants are observing practices that they once realized were improper.

It should be noted that the Bible never uses the term ‘Easter,’ the name of a pagan deity, in conjunction with Jesus’ resurrection.

The Bible also never uses the terms Lent or Ash Wednesday. Nor does it seem to positively describe the marking of anyone’s head with ashes. But the Bible does condemn practices associated with Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:13-14) which may be related to the origins of Lent and/or Ash Wednesday. Here is one commentary on that:

Ezekiel 8:14-15

Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.

Tammuz. This god can be traced back to the Sumerian Dumuzi, the god of the subterranean ocean and a shepherd deity, whose sister-consort, Inanna-Ishtar, descended into the lower world to bring him back to life. In his worship are similarities to that of Egyptian Osiris, the Canaanite Baal, and the Syrian Adonis. Gebal or Byblos, twenty-one miles north of Beirut, was the great seat of Adonis worship. The nightly death of the god, the god’s dying before the touch of winter, or the vernal god’s dying with the parched summer are variations on the theme of death and resurrection. Mourning for the god was followed by a celebration of resurrection (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).

Notice that the mourning ended with the resurrection for Tammuz. This is essentially the same as fasting for forty days which ends with the Easter.  The adoption of crosses seems also to be related to Tammuz (see What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol?  and/or watch ).

Since Ash Wednesday involves receiving ashes on one’s forehead to begin the forty-day period of Lent, this may be related to the beginning of the mourning for the death of Tammuz. It may or not be relevant to note that Ishtar is also spelled as Ash-tar. An interesting coincidence.

Speaking of coincidences, some have wondered if Ash Wednesday had any relationship to the ancient Sun-god Mithras.

Here is what Tertullian of Carthage (in eastern Egypt) noted near the beginning of the third century:

Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 40. Translated by Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.)

Payam Nabarz wrote in the 21st century:

Tertullian certainly writes that Mithras marks (signat) his soldiers on the forehead, but what ‘sign’? Some writers have even speculated that this mark was the mark of the “Beast of Revelations,” as the numerological value of the Sun is 666!…

Mithratic…initiates…would henceforth have the Sun Cross on their foreheads. The similarity to the cross of ashes made on the forehead on the Christian Ash Wednesday is striking. Some have suggested this to be an example of the early Christians borrowing from the Mithratic cult; others suggest that both cults were drawing upon the same prototype (Nabarz P. The mysteries of Mithras: the pagan belief that shaped the Christian world. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company, 2005, p. 36).

The 20th century writer Manly Hall wrote:

Candidates who successfully passed the Mithraic initiations were called Lions and were marked upon their foreheads with the Egyptian cross. (Manly P. Hall Manly P. Hall (Author), J. Augustus Knapp (Illustrator) The Secret Teachings of all Ages. Originally published 1926, reprint Wilder Publications, 2009, p. 45)

It appears that the idea of a cross on the forehead probably came from Egypt initially. Mithraism probably picked it up (there is some question about the exact mark on the forehead, but a type of cross seems to be the most likely). And sometime after the Church of Rome absorbed some aspects of Mithraism, Ash Wednesday appeared–but not officially for some time. Mithraism itself was a major force in the Roman world until at least the fourth century A.D., but it seemed to die out by the end of that century. On the other hand, the Egyptian cults seemed to exist until a later time. Many Mithratic practices have been adopted by many who profess Christ. For details, please see the article Do You Practice Mithraism?

Others have felt, however, that Ash Wednesday was adopted from India, and then made it to Rome. Notice what Barbara Walker reported:

Ash Wednesday This allegedly Christian festival came from Roman paganism, which in turn took it from Vedic India. Ashes were considered the seed of the fire god Agni, with the power to absolve all sins…

At Rome’s New Year Feast of Atonement in March, people wore sackcloth and bathed in ashes to atone for their sins. Then as now, New Year’s Eve was a festival for eating, drinking, and sinning, on the theory that all sins would be wiped out the following day. As the dying god of March, Mars took his worshippers’ sins in with him into death. Therefore the carnival fell on dies martis, the Day of Mars. In English, this was Tuesday, because Mars was associated with the Saxon god Tiw. In French the carnival day was called Mardis Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” the merrymaking day before Ash Wednesday. (Walker B. The woman’s encyclopedia of myths and secrets. HarperCollins, 1983, pp. 66-67).

And although Ash Wednesday is now most often in February (though it was in March in 2011), the aspect of penance from sins is still tied in with Ash Wednesday. And the merrymaking still exists in places that observe Mardi Gras or “Carnaval.”

Whether from Egypt, Mithratic Roman paganism, or India, the one place it did not come from was the Bible. Nor did it come from early traditions of the first followers of Jesus.

Thus Ash Wednesday does not seem to have a strictly biblical origin. Because of the relatively late acceptance of it by the Church of Rome (about 600 or 700 years after Christ), it appears that it may have entered Rome as a remnant of the Sun-cult Mithras or possibly was absorbed through the introduction of some others who had practices once associated with parts of ancient Egypt or India.

Pope Francis has spoken about Lent:

March 5, 2014

Concluding his address, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of several essential elements to live the Lenten season: to give thanks to God for the mystery of his crucified love, authentic faith, conversion and openness of heart to all.

“On this path,” he concluded, “let us invoke with particular faithfulness, the protection and help of the Virgin Mary. May She, the first believer in Christ, accompany us in the days of intense prayer and penance, to be able to celebrate, purified and renewed in the Spirit, the great mystery of the Passover of her Son.”  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-lent-is-a-turning-point-that-encourages-us-to-convert

Turning to Jesus, not Mary for help and protection, is what real Christians are supposed to do.  Ash Wednesday and Lent are not Christians holidays.

Some items of possible interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
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.
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Did Jesus celebrate Carnaval? Where did it come from?  There is also a related YouTube video Mardi Gras & Carnaval: Are they for Christians?
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? See also World Council of Churches Peace Plan.
What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion Week’? How long are three days and three nights? Was Palm Sunday on a Saturday? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Murió Jesús un día miércoles o un viernes?)
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? Where did Easter come from? What do scholars and the Bible reveal? Here is a link to a video titled Why Easter?
Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria?  Where did the eucharistic host and IHS come from?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?  A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
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?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

Lent, Protestants, and the Bible

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

COGwriter

The Catholic Lenten season is almost here: 

When is Lent 2015?

Answer: Lent starts every year on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday 2015 falls on February 18, 2015, and Holy Saturday 2015 falls on April 4, 2015. http://catholicism.about.com/od/2015calendar/f/When-Is-Lent-2015.htm

Over the past several years, I have noticed that some Protestants sometimes are embracing the Roman Catholic season of Lent.Here is a report from one who is appalled by this:

I’m truly saddened by the number of my friends on Facebook who are celebrating Ash Wednesday and Lenten this year. The common denominator of course is that they were all educated theologically at Dallas Theological Seminary.  I have other friends who did not attend DTS who are celebrating. I give them a pass. But the ones that did attend DTS, should repent of this heinous revelry immediately.

The point is that for some reason, students can come out of that seminary and think it’s perfectly fine to celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lenten. Do they not realize that we are Protestant? Do they not realize that this is a tradition of men and condemned in Scripture? Do they not realize that these holy days are not prescribed by God, but by fallen men? Do they not realize that their participation in Ash Wednesday and Lent strikes at the gospel itself?

Why does it matter?

Catholics believe that by inflicting pain during this time and denying themselves of certain items they love, they are earning themselves merit with God. This strikes at the core of the gospel because we cannot earn an ounce of righteousness through our works or deeds. This was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation.

We add nothing to our righteousness by participating in man-made holy days. We just profane the gospel instead by saying the righteousness of Christ, given to us at the moment of our salvation, is not enough. I hope you can see how absurd that is. Once again, please quit celebrating these man-made traditions … http://timothyjhammons.com/2014/03/05/protestants-dont-celebrate-ash-wednesday-or-fat-tuesday-we-are-protestant-for-a-reason/

Notice the following reports related to two Presbyterian churches who have kept it:

2012 season of Lent at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield

Suburban News – 5 March 2012

By Suburban News WESTFIELD — The Lent season kicked off on Wednesday, Feb. 22 with identical Ash Wednesday worship services (with the imposition of ashes) being offered at noon. and again at 8 p.m. This was a wonderful start for all to take this first step in their Lenten journey…On Palm Sunday, April 1, there will be two services…The communion service for Maundy Thursday, April 5, will begin at 7:30 p.m…Our Lenten journey comes to celebratory close with the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, April 8.

Church News

6 February 2013…

Appomattox Court House Presbyterian As we enter into the season of Lent, we hope you will consider joining us for a Lenten Study…

Lent is a forty-day period of time that proceeds the Catholic holiday commonly called Easter. During this time, observers tend to give up something they like (such as a food, like meat or certain meals or a form of secular entertainment, like television) essentially as a form of “fasting” for the purposes of getting closer to God or for penance.

Specifically many:

…observe Lent by fasting, performing penance, giving alms, abstaining from amusements…(Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed., Volume 12. Chicago, p. 175).

Here is how The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Lent:

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season (Thurston H. Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. A.M.D.G. Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, Lent means the Spring season (it may be of interest to note that Easter is a Teutonic word as well).

But since Lent means Spring and Lent now begins and is primarily in the Winter, where did it really come from?

The World Book Encyclopedia states:

Lent is a religious season observed in the spring…It begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays, and ends on Easter Sunday (Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed., Volume 12. Chicago, p. 175).

Ash Wednesday is observe now by many associated with the Church of Rome, as well as various Protestants.

The falsely named Christianity Today reported:

The Beginning of Lent
Until the 600s, Lent began on Quadragesima (Fortieth) Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/lent.html)

So, “Ash Wednesday” apparently did not originate on a Wednesday. Of course, the entire lenten period is not from the Bible, hence it should be of no surprise that it has had various changes in its observation.

Perhaps I should also mention that the Eastern Orthodox Church does not celebrate Ash Wednesday.

The Bible

Neither the Bible, which was not written in a Teutonic language, nor its translations (which sometimes are) uses the term Lent.

The Old Testament uses the term Spring four or so times, but in the context of wars, not fasting. It does, however, endorse certain religious observances for that time of the year. It also mentions that the year begins on the first day of a certain lunar month (called Abib or Nisan) which is normally the first day of Spring (though it does not actually use that term). Note that God defines when the year begins:

This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you (Exodus 12:2 NKJV, throughout unless otherwise noted).

The God-ordained religious festivals mentioned as occurring in what is the Spring season of the year include Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost.

Here is the mention of the first two:

‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:4-6).

The above were clearly observed by Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Church (for additional documentation, please see the articles Passover and the Early Church, Melito’s Homily on the Passover, and Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

Here is a couple of verses about the days of unleavened bread and eating:

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel…For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cutoff from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations you shall eat unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15,19-20).

Since no leaven is allowed to be eaten during the days of unleavened bread, this could be considered as a form of fasting. It however, differs from the Lenten forms of fasting in that it begins the day after Passover and lasts for seven days. Most (and in some years, all) of the Lenten fasting occurs prior to the Passover (and most of it occurs in the Winter, not the Spring season, in spite of the fact that Lent means Spring).

The next observance mentioned in the Old Testament comes during the days of unleavened bread:

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it (Leviticus 23:10-11).

Jesus Himself (who was also our Passover 1 Corinthians 5:7), fulfilled this sometime after He was resurrected (cf. John 20:17,27 KJV). This day was used both in the Old Testament and New Testament times to count when the next holy day would occur. Here is the Old Testament comment:

‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The Greek term, used in the New Testament, is Pentecost, which means 50th, from the practice of it being the fiftieth day from the wave sheaf offering. The above are all the religious periods that the Old Testament mentioned that occur in the Spring (none, other than the weekly Sabbath, occur in the Winter season).

The term Spring is not mentioned in the New Testament. When referring to the early Spring season, the New Testament mentions biblical holy days, like Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (for early Spring) and Pentecost (for late Spring)–it also mentions that Jesus and/or His disciples observed all of those. While the New Testament does mention a period called “the Fast” (Acts 27:9), scholars of most religious communities admit that this is referring to what is called in Hebrew Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement in English, which is a holy day that occurs in the Fall.

Thus, there is no specific Winter-Spring fast that the Bible (Old or New Testaments) teaches should be followed.

The Days of Unleavened Bread

The Apostle Paul taught:

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

There is no doubt that early Christians kept Passover. And there is substantial evidence to show that the kept the Days of Unleavened Bread, and not Lent, in the Spring. Notice, for example, a letter than Polycrates sent to the Roman Bishop Victor in the late second century:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man’ (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice that Polycrates said that he and the other early church leaders (like the Apostles Philip and John, and their successors like Polycarp, Thraseas, Eumenia, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito) would not deviate from the Bible, and that they knew the Bible taught them to keep the Passover on the correct date, and not on a Sunday. Also notice that they always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. Polycrates also reminded the Roman bishop that true followers of Christ “obey God rather than men”.

Notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

The Days of Unleavened Bread will be from April 4-April 10 this year, with Passover observed after sunset on April 3rd (which is the beginning of the 14th of Nisan).

In the late third century, Anatolius of Alexandria wrote the following:

I am aware that very many other matters were discussed by them, some of them with considerable probability, and others of them as matters of the clearest demonstration, by which they endeavour to prove that the festival of the Passover and unleavened bread ought by all means to be kept after the equinox…

But nothing was difficult to them with whom it was lawful to celebrate the Passover on any day when the fourteenth of the moon happened after the equinox. Following their example up to the present time all the bishops of Asia—as themselves also receiving the rule from an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John, who leant on the Lord’s breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt—were in the way of celebrating the Paschal feast, without question, every year, whenever the fourteenth day of the moon had come, and the lamb was sacrificed by the Jews after the equinox was past; not acquiescing, so far as regards this matter, with the authority of some…(THE PASCHAL CANON OF ANATOLIUS OF ALEXANDRIA. Chapters V,X, p. 415, 419).

This should be proof to any with “eyes to see and ears to hear” that some who professed Christ were keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread centuries after Jesus died. Could this have ended up being changed and called Lent?

40 Days?

When did the Church of Rome adopt forty-day fasts? That is a difficult question to know for certain, but it appears to have not been that consistent until the fourth or fifth centuries, and it was not uniform even there until later. Notice:

Be this as it may, we find in the early years of the fourth century the first mention of the term tessarakoste. It occurs in the fifth canon of the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), where there is only question of the proper time for celebrating a synod, and it is conceivable that it may refer not to a period but to a definite festival, e.g., the Feast of the Ascension, or the Purification, which Ætheria calls quadragesimæ de Epiphania…In the time of Gregory the Great (590-604) there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all, which St. Gregory, who is followed therein by many medieval writers, describes as the spiritual tithing of the year, thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent upon our present Ash Wednesday… (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

The length of time for observing Lent varied through the ages. For many years, it was considered a 36-day period of fast. By the reign of Charlemagne, about A.D. 800, four days were added making it 40 (Ramm B. Lent. World Book Encyclopedia, 50th ed., Volume 12. Chicago, p. 175).

The term tessarakoste means fortieth and it is not clear that this had anything to do with what is now known as Lent in the early fourth century–though some type of forty-day fasts were being observed then. Into the fifth century, Rome apparently had a different length for fasting, and it took a while for forty-days to become somewhat standard:

Still, this principle was differently understood in different localities, and great divergences of practice were the result. In Rome, in the fifth century, Lent lasted six weeks, but according to the historian Socrates there were only three weeks of actual fasting, exclusive even then of the Saturday and Sunday and if Duchesne’s view may be trusted, these weeks were not continuous, but were the first, the fourth, and sixth of the series, being connected with the ordinations…But the number forty, having once established itself, produced other modifications. It seemed to many necessary that there should not only be fasting during the forty days but forty actual fasting days. Thus we find Ætheria in her “Peregrinatio” speaking of a Lent of eight weeks in all observed at Jerusalem, which, remembering that both the Saturday and Sunday of ordinary weeks were exempt, gives five times eight, i.e., forty days for fasting. On the other hand, in many localities people were content to observe no more than a six weeks’ period, sometimes, as at Milan, fasting only five days in the week after the oriental fashion (Ambrose, “De Elia et Jejunio”, 10). In the time of Gregory the Great (590-604) there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all, which St. Gregory, who is followed therein by many medieval writers, describes as the spiritual tithing of the year, thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent upon our present Ash Wednesday, but the Church of Milan, even to this day adheres to the more primitive arrangement (Christian Worship, 243) (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

While the Bible does endorse that Christians should fast, no forty-day period is ever proscribed. Here is basically what Jesus Himself taught:

Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days” (Luke 5:33-36).

Thus apparently Christ’s disciples did not fast much while Jesus was alive and would fast after He was to be taken away. However, as even Catholic scholars admit, there is no evidence that the apostles initiated any type of forty-day fast.

Where Did the Forty-Day Lenten Fast Come From?

Although the answer of this may not be entirely clear, there are some indications.

As quoted earlier, the Apostle Paul invoked keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Thus, while the Apostle Paul specifically endorsed the observance of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, he did not do so for something called Lent.

However, because the Days of Unleavened Bread involve a seven-day “fast” from leaven, it may be that some associated with Rome and Egypt felt that an abstinence period would be appropriate, but the amount of time varied.

Notice what the Catholic Socrates Scholasticus admitted around the beginning of the fifth century:

The fasts before Easter will be found to be differently observed among different people. Those at Rome fast three successive weeks before Easter, excepting Saturdays and Sundays. Those in Illyrica and all over Greece and Alexandria observe a fast of six weeks, which they term ‘The forty days’ fast.’ Others commencing their fast from the seventh week before Easter, and fasting three five days only, and that at intervals, yet call that time ‘The forty days’ fast.’ It is indeed surprising to me that thus differing in the number of days, they should both give it one common appellation; but some assign one reason for it, and others another, according to their several fancies. One can see also a disagreement about the manner of abstinence from food, as well as about the number of days. Some wholly abstain from things that have life: others feed on fish only of all living creatures: many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, Genesis 1:20 these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits: others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this: while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction. And among various nations there are other usages, for which innumerable reasons are assigned. Since however no one can produce a written command as an authority, it is evident that the apostles left each one to his own free will in the matter, to the end that each might perform what is good not by constraint or necessity. Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Volume V, Chapter 22).

Since the Babylonians took over the Greeks and the Egyptians, that may have been when they started this practice.

Notice:

But the original length of the fast, traced back to Babylon was a “forty-days” fast in the spring of the year (Laynard’s Nineveh and Babylon, chapter 4, page 93). That is why it bore its name of “40 days”! (Hoeh, H. Did Jesus Observe Lent? Plain Truth. February 1982, p. 30).

It is likely that the idea of a forty-day fast came from Alexandria in Egypt or from Greece.

The historian Alexander Hislop apparently felt so as he wrote:

The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, “in the spring of the year,” is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans, for thus we read in Humboldt, where he gives account of Mexican observances: “Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.” Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt, as may be seen on consulting Wilkinson’s Egyptians. This Egyptian Lent of forty days, we are informed by Landseer, in his Sabean Researches, was held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god. At the same time, the rape of Proserpine seems to have been commemorated, and in a similar manner; for Julius Firmicus informs us that, for “forty nights” the “wailing for Proserpine” continued; and from Arnobius we learn that the fast which the Pagans observed, called “Castus” or the “sacred” fast, was, by the Christians in his time, believed to have been primarily in imitation of the long fast of Ceres, when for many days she determinedly refused to eat on account of her “excess of sorrow,” that is, on account of the loss of her daughter Proserpine, when carried away by Pluto…

Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the Christian festival, being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz”; in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April. To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity–now far sunk in idolatry–in this as in so many other things, to shake hands…

Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the “sacred fast” or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, “went down to Egypt for help” to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate Church, and who could find no more excellent way to “revive” it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown; and even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that, in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of Paganism. What may have been the period of fasting in the Roman Church before sitting of the Nicene Council does not very clearly appear, but for a considerable period after that Council, we have distinct evidence that it did not exceed three weeks (Hislop A. Two Babylons. pp. 104-106).

Hence we see that the so-called Christian observance of Lent is apparently a continuation of widespread ancient pagan practices that were subtly incorporated into mainstream Christianity over the centuries.

But the original practices of the earliest Christians was to observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Some apparently thought compromise with non-biblical holidays would substitute for biblical ones like the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Of course, since Lent and Ash Wednesday are not biblically-enjoined holidays and the Days of Unleavened Bread are, Protestants who claim that they get their doctrine only from the Bible (the rallying cry for the Reformation Protestants was sola scriptura–the Bible alone) should ask themselves why they follow the Church of Rome instead of scripture on these points.

Will you follow those who followed Christ or do you prefer later adaptations?

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living 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 Living Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example?
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Did Jesus celebrate Carnaval? Where did it come from?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: 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?

Valentine’s Traditions and Spending

Saturday, February 14th, 2015


Valentine Card, 1909, Shows Pagan Ties

COGwriter

Since many observe Valentine’s Day, this post will cover some of the traditions of it around the world and where some came from. Notice the following:

February 14, 2014
Many countries have their own particular traditions and customs on February 14 and here’s a selection:

Italy

Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival…Also, there is a traditionof giving chocolate to loved ones and Italians believe that in this case, size does matter- the bigger the chocolate, the stronger the love you will have.

France

The French like to think of themselves as the most romantic people in the world, and it’s often claimed on Gallic shores that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his life while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.

United Kingdom

Valentine’s cards are often sent anonymously in the UK, a tradition dating back to Victorian times…

Estonia

Valentine’s Day celebrations in Estonia have their own twist: February 14 is called “Friend’s Day”, so single, lovelorn people don’t feel left out. http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/14/valentines-day-traditions-around-the-world/

China

couples in China rushed to make their marriages official, as Friday marked both Valentine’s Day and the Chinese Lantern Festival. The two celebrations fall on the same day only once every 19 years. http://www.voanews.com/content/valentines-day-around-the-world/1851556.html

United States

In the United States, the National Retail Federation expects people to spend more than $17 billion this year on candy, cards, flowers and other mementos marking the occasion. http://www.voanews.com/content/valentines-day-around-the-world/1851556.html

Valentine’s Day is banned in Saudi Arabia and discouraged in other Islam-dominated lands.

February 14, 2014

In Pakistan, Malaysia and other mainly-Muslim countries, many consider Valentine’s Day to be un-Islamic and discourage the celebration of it. In Iran and Saudi Arabia, Valentine’s Day is banned. Hindu extremists in India have also opposed the day. http://www.voanews.com/content/valentines-day-around-the-world/1851556.html

But, some still observe it in the Islamic-dominated lands–which is why some have taken steps to reduce the influence of this essentially pagan holiday.

Notice something from NPR:

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled…

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right…

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”

Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike. http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day

While I am glad women are no longer subject to public whipping on this day, the holiday still is not on Christian origin.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. (Thurston, Herbert. “St. Valentine.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 14 Feb. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15254a.htm>.)

The Catholic Encyclopediaessentially admits this did not come from the Bible.  I would add that the practices began earlier than the Middle Ages with origins in a pagan sexual lottery.  Notice what else the Roman Catholics teach:

The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year (The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day. http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/ValentinesDay/, January 31, 2004).

The Apostle Jude warned that people claiming to be Christian leaders would turn towards behaviors like sexual license:

4 For there have been some intruders, who long ago were designated for this condemnation, godless persons, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4, New American Bible of the United States Conference Catholic Bishops)

As alluded to earlier, in countries like the USA, Valentine’s traditions include giving cards, flowers, and chocolate, often with symbols that are supposed to represent Cupid or some type of love. Food and alcohol are sometimes also involved.

Here is more information on some of the origins of a few of the traditions:

Your Valentine’s Day checklist probably includes chocolates, cards and a dozen red roses. So how did all this start?…Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia on Feb. 13-15. The feast involved animal sacrifices and whipping women, thought to make them more fertile…

But the first direct connection between St. Valentine’s and the idea of love comes much later, in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, says Andy Kelly, an English professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, who wrote the book “Chaucer and the Cult of St. Valentine.”

Chaucer, best known for “The Canterbury Tales,” wrote a poem called “Parliament of Foules (Fowls)” in 1381 to honor Richard II’s engagement, Kelly said.

In the poem, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on May 3 — not Feb. 14 — and represents “the day when all the birds choose their mates for the year,” Kelly told USA TODAY Network.

“Quickly afterwards, within a generation, people took the idea of celebrating of St. Valentine’s as a day of love,” Kelly said.

The St. Valentine whom Chaucer was probably referencing was St. Valentine of Genoa, who died on May 3 and whose feast day was celebrated on May 2, according to Kelly’s book…

Cards

The British Museum in London has a Valentine dated from the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century when Valentine-giving became popular in England, said Ann C. Colley, a distinguished professor of English at SUNY-Buffalo State…

Chocolate

Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, said Alexandra Leaf, a culinary educator and founder of Chocolate Tours of New York City, in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

Starting in the 17th century, when cacao beans were first brought to Europe from Mexico and Central America, Europeans associated the food with stories about Montezuma and his many wives, Leaf said…

“There’s a carryover of the aphrodisiac notion that would make it appropriate for Valentine’s Day,” Leaf said…

Cupid

The cherub-faced Cupid we recognize today was originally something quite different.

In the 5th century, the Greek version of Cupid, Eros (the inspiration for the word “erotic”), was depicted as a tall young man, who was “athletic, heroic and had wings,” according to Angeline Chiu…Chiu said Cupid’s transformation into a baby can be credited to Renaissance art…

Red roses

In the 18th century, Charles II of Sweden introduced the idea of flowers symbolizing emotions or messages carrying non-verbal messages, according to ProFlowers.com.

Today, red roses stand for passionate love, pink roses for friendship, white for purity, and both red and white mean unity, said Jennifer Sparks, spokeswoman for the Society of American Florists, in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network. http://www.freep.com/article/20140214/FEATURES01/302140053/Valentine-s-Day-traditions-explained

Valentine’s Day is not an actual Christian holiday, even the Church of Rome no longer officially honors it, see Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins, though Pope Francis promoted it today. Actually, in the photo of him encouraging Valentine’s Day at http://www.voanews.com/content/valentines-day-around-the-world/1851556.html, Francis was holding a red rose.

It comes from paganism and the Bible warns against engaging in pagan practices. Notice:

29 When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:29-32, NKJV).

2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe (Jeremiah 10:2-3, KJV).

29 …abstain from things offered to idols (Acts 15:29, NKJV).

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

9 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. (1 Corinthians 10:19-21)

While there are many traditions and practices, none who profess Christ should observe this February 14th “holiday”–it simply is not a Christian holiday.

For more information, please consider studying the following:

Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine’s Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true? There is also a YouTube sermon available titled Valentine’s Day, Christianity, and Islam.
Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day? This is a shorter YouTube video about the origins of Valentine’s Day and why real Christians should not observe it.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
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?
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

COGwriter

During Black History month, I thought it might be appropriate to quote some writings from the late Martin Luther King Jr. Particularly, those on the ancient sun-god religion of Mithraism, that was popular in the Roman Empire from about the first century B.C. until the fourth century A.D.

So here is some of what Dr. King wrote on Mithraism, in a document dated November 23, 1949:

In Avesta, Mithra was the genius of celestial light…The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was another view which was very prominent in Mithraism…

Women were compelled to seek salvation in some other cult, for Mithraism excluded them entirely…

When Mithraism is compared to Christianity, there are surprisingly many points of similarity. Of all the mystery cults, Mithraism was the greatest competitor of Christianity…

That Christians did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 213-214, 217, 222, 224).

Of course, true Christians did not really borrow from Mithraism, but the Greco-Roman faiths did.

Here is some of what Dr. King wrote in a document dated February 15, 1950:

Mithraism…was suppressed by the Christians sometime in the latter part of the fourth century A.D.: but its collapse seems to have been due to the fact that by that time many of its doctrines had been adopted by the church, so that it was practically absorbed by its rival.

…the Church made a sacred day out of Sunday partially because…of the resurrection. But when we observe a little further we find that as a solar festival, Sunday was the sacred day of Mithra: it is also interesting to notice that since Mithra was addressed as Lord, Sunday must have been “the Lord’s Day” long before Christian use. It is also to be noticed that our Christmas, December 25th, was the birthday of Mithra, and was only taken over in the Fourth Century as the date, actually unknown, of the birth of Jesus.

To make the picture a little more clear, we may list a few of the similarities between these two religions: (1) Both regard Sunday as a Holy Day. (2) December 25 came to be considered as the anniversary of the birth of Mithra and Christ also. (3) Baptism and a ritual meal were important parts of both groups…

In summary we may say that the belief in immortality, a mediator between god and man, the observance of certain sacramental rites…were common to Mithraism and Christianity. (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 307, 309.)

Notice that Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly understood that the Sunday churches dropped the Sabbath, that “the Lord’s Day” essentially first meant the day of Mithra, and that the worlds’ churches did adopt many practices from Mithraism.

I wish he and others emphasized this aspect of his writings more. His writings on Mithraism should help raise the awareness of its influence to all. Hopefully, so people who claim Christ will realize that they should not continue practices that many obtained outside of the Bible, but from the influence of Mithraism.

I would again like to emphasize that Christians faithful to the original teachings of Christ, the apostles, and the New Testament did not adopt the practices of Mithraism.

While Dr. King was most known for his civil rights protests, he figured out that much of what passed for Christianity in his day was really a form that adopted Mithratic practices. Does that include your version? Are you sure?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria? Where did the eucharistic host and IHS come from?
God’s Grace is For All Is being Jewish a hindrance to salvation? What about not being a descendant of Israel? What does the Bible really teach? Here is a link to a related sermon titled Race and Grace; Do you view race as God does?
Africa: Its Biblical Past and Prophesied Future What does the Bible teach about Africa and its future? Did the early Church reach Africa? Will God call all the Africans?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
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?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday?
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?
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.
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?
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?

Sermon: Valentine’s Day, Christianity, and Islam

Saturday, February 7th, 2015


COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce this sermon from its ContinuingCOG channel:

What are the origins of Valentine’s Day? Are the origins Christian? Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day? Why February 14? What are the connections to Lupercalia and Juno, the Queen of Heaven? What has ‘Christianity Today’ written? What have Catholics written? What have Muslims written? Could Valentine’s Day be tied back to Nimrod? Where do Valentine’s Day traditions originate? Did early Christians keep it? What does the Bible teach? Does the observance of Valentine’s Day contribute to the way of truth being blasphemed? Dr. Thiel addresses these questions and more.

A related written article is titled: Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins.

Here is a link to the video sermon: Valentine’s Day, Christianity, and Islam.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine’s Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true? A related sermon-length video is available titled Valentine’s Day, Christianity, and Islam.
Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day? This is a YouTube video about the origins of Valentine’s Day and why real Christians should not observe it.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
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?
CCOG.ORG 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 are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. 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.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
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.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos as well as some ContinuingCOG channel sermons. It is also available as a mobile app.
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.

The real origins of Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

COGwriter

If you are a Christian, should you celebrate February 14th as Valentine’s Day?

The Apostle John was inspired to write:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NKJV)

Valentine’s Day is a worldly holiday, essentially built upon lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It will pass away, it is not a true Christian holiday. The real origin of Valentine’s Day is outside the Bible and early Christian literature.

Christians who may be tempted to compromise need to ask themselves if the origins of Valentine’s Day are biblical or pagan.

It is not too hard to figure that out.

Even the old World Book Encyclopedia (Valentine’s Day. Volume 19. 1966, pp.205-206) states,

…the customs of the day have nothing to do with the lives of the saints. They probably come from an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia which took place every February 15. The festival honored Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, the god of nature…The Romans celebrated their feast of Lupercalia as a lovers’ festival for young people. Young men and women chose partners for the festival by drawing names from a box…After the spread of Christianity, churchmen tried to give Christian meaning to the pagan festival. In 496, Pope Gelasius changed the Lupercalia festival of February 15 to Saint Valentine’s Day February 14. But the sentimental meaning of the old festival has remained to the present time. Historians disagree about the identity of St. Valentine”.

Furthermore it also states,

LUPERCALIA…was celebrated on February 15 in honor of Faunus, a rural Italian god. Faunus was later identified with Pan, the god of herds and fertility…Priests…ran around striking all the women the met (Lupercalia. Volume 12. 1966, p.456).

The pagan being named Cupid (a supposed son of Venus) was also involved. According to pagan mythology, anyone being hit by Cupid’s arrow falls in love with the first person he/she sees. One source was bold enough to state,

The church replaced elements of various love-gods (Juno Februata, Eros, Cupid, Kama, Priapus) with St. Valentine, an imaginary Christian. A number of contradictory biographies were created for him…By taking over some of the features of the Pagan gods and goddesses, St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers…St. Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Lupercalia, the Roman “festival of sexual license” (ST. VALENTINE AND VALENTINE’S DAY, http://www.religioustolerance.org/valentine1.htm, February 6, 2004).

Notice what the Roman Catholics teach,

The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year (The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day. http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/ValentinesDay/, January 31, 2004).

It is of interest to note that the same Catholic source states,

The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.

Does Valentine’s Day sound like a holy festival of love or a pagan holiday of lust?

Notice also:

The Feast of Lubercus The first interpretation has this celebration originating as a pagan tradition in the third century. During this time hordes of hungry wolves roamed outside of Rome where shepherds kept their flocks. The God Lupercus, was said to watch over the shepherds and their flocks and keep them from the wolves. Every February the Romans celebrated a feast called Lupercalia to honor Lupercus so that no harm would come to the shepherds and their flocks. Also during Lupercalia, but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of young women were put into a box and names were drawn by lot. The boys and girls who were matched would be considered partners for the year, which began in March. This celebration continued long after wolves were a problem to Rome. — St. Valentine’s Day As Christianity became prevalent, priests attempted to replace old heathen practices. To Christianize the ancient pagan celebration of the Feast of Lubercus, the church officials changed the name to St. Valentine’s Day. To give the celebration further meaning and eliminate pagan traditions, priests substituted the drawing of Saints names for the names of the girls. On St. Valentine’s Day the priest placed saint’s names into an urn or box. The young people then drew a name from the container. In the following year, the youth was supposed to emulate the life of the saint whose name he had drawn. By the fourteenth century they reverted back to the use of girl’s names. In the sixteenth century they once again tried to have saintly valentines but it was as unsuccessful as the first attempt. While it can’t be proved historically, there were seven men named Valentine who were honored with feasts on February 14th. Of these men, two stories link incidents that could have given our present day meaning to St. Valentine’s Day…—-February 14th – The Day the Birds Began to Mate The Europeans also believed that on February 14th the birds began to choose their mates. In fact Chaucer, in his “Parlement of Foules,” wrote: “For this was Seynt Valentine’s Day when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate”…The tradition of birds choosing their mates on St. Valentine’s Day led to the idea that boys and girls would do the same. Now when a youth drew a girl’s name, he wore it on his sleeve, and attended and protected her during the following year. This made the girl his valentine and they exchanged love tokens throughout the year. Later this was changed to only men giving love tokens to females, usually without names but signed “with St. Valentine’s Love.” Later, in France, both sexes drew from the valentine box. A booked called Travels in England, written in 1698, gives an account of the way it was done: On St. Valentine’s Eve an equal number of Maids and Bachelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up and draw by way of lots, the Maids taking the Men’s billets, and the Men the Maids’; so that each of the young Men lights upon a Girl that he calls his Valentine, and each of the Girls upon a young Man which she calls hers. By this means each has two Valentines–but the Man sticks faster to the Valentine that is fallen to him than to the Valentine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport ofen ends in Love. This ceremony is practised differently in different Countries, and according to the freedom or severity of Madame Valentine. This is another kind of Valentine, which is the first young Man or Woman chance throws in your way in the street, or elsewhere . . . (The Origins of Valentine’s Day. http://www.techdirect.com/valentine/origin.html, January 31, 2004).

Anyway, the preceding article mentions those three as the possible origins of Valentine’s day. Actually all three of those are to some degree correct (and World Book Online, in its article Valentine’s Day–which I checked on February 6, 2004–says that some believe that all three played a role in the origins)–Valentine’s day was a pagan holiday that the Catholic Church modified and that most Protestants embrace, which is probably why some Europeans also declared that to be the day the birds mated (birds mate pretty much every day in some part of Europe, so its seems disingenuous to coincidentally declare it on February 14).

But the most likely beginning of the “holiday” seems to have to do with the beginning of the Roman Empire, and probably is prior to the third century:

Archaeologists say they have unearthed Lupercale-the sacred cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf nursed the twin founders of Rome and where the city itself was born.

The long-lost underground chamber was found beneath the remains of Emperor Augustus’ palace on the Palatine, a 230-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) hill in the center of the city…

According to myth, Lupercale is where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the war god Mars and mortal priestess Rhea Silvia, who had been abandoned in a cradle on the bank of the Tiber River…

Every year on February 15 ancient priests killed a dog and two goats and smeared the foreheads of two boys from noble families with the sacrificial blood as part of the Lupercalia celebration. (Valsecchi, Maria Cristina. Sacred Cave of Rome’s Founders Discovered, Archaeologists Say. National Geographic News. January 26, 2007. January 26, 2007. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/070126-rome-palatine.html)

Of course, the story of Romulus and Remus is really the fable about the beginning of the Roman Empire–now that Europe is once again trying to revive this empire, I am sure that its leaders are pleased to have located “the sacred cave”.

Is Valentine’s Day A Holiday in Honor of “The Queen of Heaven”?

Another source adds,

The roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to pagan festivals of third century Rome. February 14th was set aside as a day to honor the goddess Juno, who was the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses and was the goddess of women and marriage. This day was also the eve of the Feast of Lupercalia. This festival was in honor of the god Lubercus (The History of Valentine’s. http://www.christinescyberuniverse.com/VDay/VdayHistory.html, January 31, 2004).

And who was Juno?

JUNO was the queen of heaven and wife of Jupiter (Zeus)…The ancient Greeks called her HERA (Juno. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 11. 1966, pp.162-163).

A holiday for the queen of heaven!

What does God say about that?

…the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?” says the LORD. “Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?” (Jeremiah 7:18-20, NKJV)

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, “We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!’ “Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the LORD, ‘that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “The Lord GOD lives.”‘Behold, I will watch over them for adversity and not for good. And all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end to them” (Jeremiah 44:25-28, NKJV).

In other words, God was not happy that people wanted to worship the queen of heaven and He would punish them for it.

Another source mentioned,

The Feast of Lupercalia was celebrated in honor of the God Lupercus, who was said to watch over shepherds and their flocks and kept them safe, since during this time hordes of hungry wolves roamed outside Rome. The festival was celebrated on February 15 at the cave of the Lupercal on the Palatine Hill, where the legendary founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus, were supposed to have been nursed by a wolf. However, other scholars, while not dismissing the celebration of Lupercalia, prefer to explain the celebration which took place in the middle of February as a celebration to the Goddess Juno Februato. It is to their thinking linked to Valentine’s Day. While all scholars agree to the time when the practice of men drawing the names of women took place, there do exist slight differences in whose honor the celebrations took place. As time marched on, Christianity steadily gained converts and it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I, who ruled as emperor from AD 324 to 337. All pagan cults were prohibited in AD 392 by an edict of emperor Theodosius I. At this time, priests attempted to replace old heathen practices. The ancient pagan celebration of the Feast of Lubercus was renamed St. Valentine’s Day . The priests replaced the practice of having men draw names of girls with having young people draw names of saints. The youths were supposed to emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. The practice of this custom was unsuccessful at first and reverted back to the use of having men draw names of girls (The Myth of the Origin of Valentine’s Day. http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/9300/stp.html, January 31, 2004).

No matter if Valentine’s is the Feast of Lupercus/Lubercus or Queen of Heaven Juno or both (which it probably is) it is NOT listed as a Feast of the LORD (see Leviticus 23).

The modern practice of giving cards to ask/tell someone to “be my Valentine” seems to be a holdover from the ancient sexual lottery.

None who profess Christ should observe this February 14th “holiday”–it simply is not a Christian holiday. It began as a sexual lottery and still has sexual ramifications, even in the 21st century.

Modern scholars and historians realize this, shouldn’t you?

For more information, please consider studying the following:

Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today has suggested that Valentine’s Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true? There is also a YouTube titled Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day? A more detailed sermon is available and titled Valentine’s Day, Christianity, and Islam.
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Is Mardi Gras Christian? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Where did it come from? There is also a related YouTube video Mardi Gras & Carnaval: Are they for Christians?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
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?
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? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
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. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.