Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Pope Francis, Lent, Easter, and the original faith

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017


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

COGwriter

March 1st marks the day that Roman Catholics begin to observe Lent this year.

Last year, Pope Francis said:

February 10, 2016

I wish you a blessed Lent.

May Our Lady of Pompeii accompany you and, please, pray for me

[Original text: Italian] [Translation provided by Vatican Radio] https://zenit.org/articles/in-lenten-audio-message-pope-urges-young-people-to-remember-god-gives-joy-more-than-world-ever-can/

Here is something related to the ‘Lady of Pompeii’:

A young girl from Naples, Fortuna Agrelli, was suffering from a painful, incurable disease. She had been given up by the most celebrated physicians. On February 16, 1884, the afflicted girl and her relatives commenced a novena of Rosaries. The Queen of the Holy Rosary favoured her with an apparition on March 3rd. Mary, sitting upon a high throne, surrounded by luminous figures, held the Divine child on her lap, and in her hand a Rosary. The Virgin Mother and the holy Infant were clad in gold-embroidered garments. They were accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena. Fortuna marveled at the beauty of Mary and asked her as “Queen of the Rosary,” for her cure. Mary replied that, since she had called her by a title that was so pleasing to her, she could not refuse her request; she then told her to make three novenas of the rosary to obtain all she asked for. The child was indeed cured, and soon after Mary appeared to her again saying: “Whosoever desires to obtain favors from me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving.” This is how the Rosary Novena devotion to Mary originated.

In 1883, a sanctuary was built for the image and consecrated in 1891. Many miracles are attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Pompeii. The image of Our Lady of Pompeii represents Our Lady of the Rosary as Queen of Heaven. http://www.marypages.com/OurLadyofPompeii.htm

So, idolatry and the ‘queen of heaven,’ two subjects the Bible teaches against are associated with the the Lady of Pompeii (see also Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions)yet Pope Francis endorses that and asks for protection from that ‘Lady’ for Lent.

Last year, Pope Francis taught the following about Lent:

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 be 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 of Jesus’ ministry 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 the Church of Rome 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 that famous 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 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? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language by Dr. Hoeh: ¿Por Qué Se Observa la Cuaresma? Here is a link to a related sermon: Lent, Ash Wednesday, Carnaval, and Christianity?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
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? A related sermon is available: The Second Commandment, Idols, and Icons.
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.
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?
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Many will observe ‘Ash Wednesday,’ but is it scriptural?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017


Cross of Ashes

COGwriter

On March 1, 2017, many around the world will observe Ash Wednesday and start Lent. Lent is considered to be a time of self-imposed abstinence by millions.

Time reported the following:

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 the 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 festival called 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.

Ash Wednesday is not a Christian 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? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language by Dr. Hoeh: ¿Por Qué Se Observa la Cuaresma? Here is a link to a related sermon: Lent, Ash Wednesday, Carnaval, and Christianity?
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.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
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? There is also a related YouTube video Mardi Gras & Carnaval: Are they for Christians?
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?
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?)
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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。.

Polycarp: Church of God or Church of Rome?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017


“Martyrdom of Polycarp” from Ceiling of the Church of St. Polycarp, Smyrna (now called Izmir, Turkey)

COGwriter

February 23rd is considered the “Feast of Polycarp” by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics. Some believe that he was martyred on that date (though an early Spring martyrdom seems to have been more likely; see Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter), and thus some read parts or all of a second century account called The Martyrdom of Polycarp.

While the day supposedly in his honor appears to be a Church of Rome, and not Church of God, day, were his beliefs more like the latter than the former?

Yes.

Was Polycarp Protestant or Eastern Orthodox?

No.

Who was Polycarp?

Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John. In the late 1st century (or the early second century) he was put in charge of the Church of God in Smyrna. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox revere him as a saint (as do some Protestants). We in the Continuing Church of God primarily trace our early history from Peter, Paul, and John through Polycarp (we also trace our history through other areas that had faithful Christians for a while, such as Jerusalem).

Almost everyone associated with Christendom considers that Polycarp was a true and faithful Christian leader.

In the late second century, the Catholic and Orthodox saint Irenaeus wrote:

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

So if Polycarp was a faithful saint who was appointed by the apostles, then perhaps real Christians would follow his practices as he followed the Bible?

In the famous account of his martyrdom, he made some statements that even under the face of death suggested that he had a sense of humor:

9:1 But as Polycarp entered into the stadium, a voice came to him from heaven; ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.’ And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice. And at length, when he was brought up, there was a great tumult, for they heard that Polycarp had been apprehended.

9:2 When then he was brought before him, the proconsul enquired whether he were the man. And on his confessing that he was, he tried to persuade him to a denial saying, ‘Have respect to thine age,’ and other things in accordance therewith, as it is their wont to say; ‘Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the atheists.’

Then Polycarp with solemn countenance looked upon the whole multitude of lawless heathen that were in the stadium, and waved his hand to them; and groaning and looking up to heaven he said, ‘Away with the atheists.’

9:3 But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, ‘Swear the oath, and I will release You; revile the Christ,’ Polycarp said, ‘Fourscore and six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’

Perhaps it should be mentioned that some have interpreted the above account as proof that Polycarp died at age 86 and hence was baptized as an infant, yet another ancient document (known as the Harris Fragments) records that he lived until age 104. This is supportive that Polycarp was baptized at age 18 (see also Baptism and the Early Church) and NOT as an infant.

And even though many Greco-Romans observe the presumed date of his martyrdom as a feast, it is not likely that many of those who do so realize that he held many (though not all) views that sometimes conflict with those now held by the Greco-Roman churches.

Actually, Polycarp was a heretic fighter and even tried to get Anicetus, Bishop of Rome to change and keep Passover on the same date that we in the Continuing Church of God do. Instead the Church of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestants keep the wrong day and observe that day differently than Polycarp did.

Here is a summary of some of Polycarp’s doctrinal beliefs and practices:

A Binitarian view, that acknowledged the Holy Spirit, was held by the apostolic and post-apostolic true Christian leaders, like Polycarp.
Hierarchical church governance was advocated by Polycarp.
The canon of the New Testament was known by Polycarp as he seemed to refer to all the books it in the famous Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians.
Christmas was not observed by Polycarp nor any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings.
Deification of Christians after the resurrection was taught by the early leaders of the Church, including Polycarp.
Easter per se was not observed by the apostolic church, and Polycarp fought against it.
The Fall Holy Days were observed by true early Christians, including Polycarp.
The Father was considered to be God by all early professing Christians, including Polycarp.
Polycarp taught against idols (and that would include icons).
Polycarp taught against the immortality of the soul.
Jesus was considered to be God by the true Christians, including Polycarp.
The Kingdom of God was taught by Polycarp.
Leavened Bread was removed from the homes of early Christians like Polycarp.
Lent was not observed by Polycarp.
Limbo was not taught by Polycarp.
Military Service was not allowed for true early Christians like Polycarp.
Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians who succeeded Polycarp.
Passover was kept on the 14th of Nisan Polycarp.
Purgatory was not taught by Polycarp.
The Resurrection of the dead was taught Polycarp.
The Sabbath was observed on Saturday by Polycarp.
The Ten Commandments were observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians, including Polycarp–and in the order that the Continuing Church of God claims they are in.

The Continuing Church of God has all of the same beliefs and practices as Polycarp (although we observe no particular day in his honor).

If Polycarp really was a saint that was placed in charge by Christ’s apostles–which he was–shouldn’t you have the same beliefs and practices?

Several items of possibly related interest may include:

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?
Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him The Church of Rome, Eastern Orthodox, Continuing Church of God, and various Protestants consider that Polycarp of Smyrna was a saint and a significant Christian leader in Asia Minor in the second century. What is unique about Polycarp? Was he really a successor to the apostles? What did he teach? Does he prove infant baptism? How old was he when he was martyred? Did he and his successors hold Church of God or Church of Rome doctrines? This is a YouTube video sermon.
Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians Did Polycarp refer to all the books in the New Testament? This is Roberts and Donaldson’s translation, corrected by me in one place, where they made a small error in translating Latin by omitting one word. It is also annotated with scriptures to demonstrate that Polycarp did have the New Testament canon.
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? Does the Continuing Church of God or the Church of Rome more faithfully follow his teachings and practices?
The Martyrdom of Polycarp This was written shortly after Polycarp died; likely involving Papirius. A mistranslation is corrected in this version.
Polycarp, Fragments from Victor of Capua This may have been written by Polycarp or “pseudo-Polycarp”.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
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?
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.

Papias held COG views that the Church of Rome has strongly denounced

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017


Hierapolis, Turkey (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

The Catholics of Rome consider February 22nd as the day to honor Papius of Hierapolis, whom they consider to be one of their saints. This is somewhat odd in that Papius held many 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 (observing the Passover on the biblical date of the 14th) was seriously denounced by an edict of Theodosius in the late fourth century.

Papias and John

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about Papias and 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 Church 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? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
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? Two related sermons are available Millennial Utopia and The Millennium.
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? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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 Day ‘love’

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

COGwriter

Valentine’s Day is observed by many in February. Currently we are starting to see store displays and tv & print ads for it.

In the past, the improperly named Christianity Today (CT) has sometimes seemed to try to justify its position on the holiday by talking about love. For example, its Valentine’s page has begun as follows:

February 14

1 John 4:7
Let us love one another, for love comes from God. (NIV)

The implication of the above was that the Apostle John somehow supports Valentine’s Day. The misuse of this scripture here is appalling.

But what is the love of God?

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. (1 John 5:2-4)

Valentine’s Day has more to do with lust than love–Valentine’s Day is not from the Father but from the world. Notice what the Apostle John wrote in a couple of chapters earlier in the same book:

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.

An article on Valentine’s Day from CT stated:

So why do people send “valentines” or “love-tokens” to one another on that day? The origin of that tradition is not thought to have any connection with the saint’s day. Rather it comes from an early European belief that the second week of February was when birds began to mate. The idea suggests that lovers should probably exchange notes and gifts on February 14 in conjunction with what nature practiced. It then concludes with “Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is observed as a special day for love and romance. This topic is one of the oldest, and probably most-discussed, issues in history! As Christians, we know that love originates from God and that God is love (1 John 4:16).

Love comes from God, but paganism is a lie, and lies originated from the devil (cf. John 8:44). Compromise with pagan traditions for membership and/or economic factors is essentially one of the major areas that separates those truly in Christ’s Church from those who think that they are part of it. Furthermore, those in Christ’s Church try to live their lives in accordance with the law of God as Jesus and the original apostles did. Days that were compromises with paganism were not endorsed by Jesus or His early followers.

The same Apostle John who wrote that Christians were not supposed to be worldly but were to keep God’s commandment was not at the same time telling them to ignore the Bible and adopt pagan-compromised practices. But CT seems to want people to think otherwise.

And just because people use the name of Christ and call themselves Christian does not mean that they are faithful.

Notice what Jesus taught:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

John did not observe Valentine’s Day or anything close to it.

Valentine’s Day is not a biblical holiday. It is actually banned in Saudi Arabia:

5 February 2017

Love it or loathe it, another Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. …

And if you want to avoid Valentine’s Day altogether? You’ll be in good company in Saudi Arabia, where it’s strictly banned. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-4192854/Surprising-foreign-Valentine-s-Day-traditions-infographic.html#ixzz4XpAg8tXF

Somewhat officially, Muslims consider that Valentine’s Day is proof that the world’s so-called ‘Christians’ have compromised with paganism as the Muslims realize it is not a biblical holy day.

As most scholars will tell you, the modern practice of giving cards to ask/tell someone to “be my Valentine” seems to be a holdover from the ancient sexual lottery.

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

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

For more information, please consider studying the following items:

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 titled Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day? A more detailed sermon is available and titled Valentine’s Day, Christianity, and Islam.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
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. Here is a version in the Spanish language:.¿Están vigentes todavía los diez mandamientos?
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? For a more detailed discussion of the first four commandments, please see the video The Ten Commandments: Loving God. For a more detailed discussion of the last six commandments, please see: The Ten Commandments: Loving Your Neighbor. Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 十条诫命显示爱,违反诫命的就是邪恶的
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Sermon: CCOG Q&A: Jubilee, Revelation, Origin of the Cross, & more!

Saturday, February 4th, 2017


COGwriter

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


1:17:58

CCOG Q&A: Jubilee, Revelation, Origin of the Cross

Dr. Thiel continues the series of going through answering questions that were commonly posed to the old Worldwide Church of God. Using a binder that many speakers were given by that church that contained standardized letters that were sent to answer questions, Dr. Thiel answers them.  Normally, in much greater detail than the normally single or double page answers that were given in the past. Subject covered included the ‘Jubilee year,’ economic restraints, aspects of the calendar, areas of the Book of Revelation, and the origin of the cross.

Here is a link to the sermon: CCOG Q&A: Jubilee, Revelation, Origin of the Cross.

Some items of related interest may include:

The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Christians, the Day of Atonement, and Fasting; here is another sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
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.
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
links to materials in nearly 100 languages.
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
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 numerous Asian languages as well as some in English. Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God 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 has many Indian languages.
CCOG.EU
This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in numerous European languages.
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.
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.
Bible News Prophecy
channel. Dr. Thiel has produced many YouTube videos for the BibleNewsProphecy channel. And you can find them at that channel.
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.

From Antichrist to Brother in Christ?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017


Ecumenical Church Service

COGwriter

Former Roman Catholic Mike Gendron has the following in his February 2017 newsletter:

The Nature of Deception

Tragically, there are many who go to their graves having been deceived about life’s most critical issue. They either embraced the lie that good people go to heaven, or a similar lie that heaven can be merited by good works or religious activity. The only hope for victims of this kind of deception is for them to be lovingly confronted with the truth of God’s Word before it is too late.

The source of all spiritual deception is Satan, who is the god of this world, the master deceiver, and the father of lies. Rarely will anyone believe an outright lie, so he cleverly mixes truth with error to deceive even the elect if possible (Mat. 24:24). This is why so many evangelicals have been misled about Roman Catholicism. Many believe Roman Catholicism is a Christian denomination instead of an apostate church that radically departed from the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ. This deceitfully insidious religion, headquartered in the Vatican, has become Satan’s greatest counterfeit. It hides its false and fatal gospel with a thin veneer of truth that seduces undiscerning people. Whenever truth is mixed with error it is no longer true. We need to heed the warning given by Dr. Harry Ironside, the former pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church. He said, “Error is like leaven which leavens the whole lump. Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent-looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.”

Those evangelical leaders who continue to promote ecumenical unity with Roman Catholics are being unfaithful to God’s Word and to the sanctity of His Church. As Ironside warned, “God hates such a mixture!”

Mike Gendron also put out the following in his newsletter a while back:

In his first-ever video declaring his “prayer intentions,” Pope Francis called for dialogue and collaboration among those of the various world religions asserting that they are simply “seeking or meeting God in different ways.” Francis contends that all the religions of the world simply represent mankind’s diversity in seeking God. He says that despite the differing beliefs, everyone is a child of the same God. The pope said, “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways, but there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God.”

Mike’s following comments are from his interview with CNN: Tragically, those who do not know the Bible or who refuse to submit to it as the supreme authority for truth, will be deceived by the pope’s latest pronouncement. The pope’s assertion that all mankind seeks after the same God, just in different ways, is false according to the Word of God. No one seeks for (the true) God (Rom. 3:11), but there are many who seek after false gods of their own imagination or false gods of their religious traditions. The only way to meet with the true God is His way, through the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). The Word of God reveals that the human race is made up of people who are either children of God or children of the devil (1 John 3:10). When the Lord Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for refusing to believe the truth of His Word, He told them that their father was the devil (John 8:44). This remains true today in that the god of this world (Satan) has created a variety of religions to blind all of his children from the light of the Gospel and the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). Everyone is a child of the ‘god of this world’ until they exchange their religion for a relationship with the one true God through Jesus Christ. Only those who receive Jesus by believing in His name become children of God (John 1:12-13).

The Apostle Peter taught:

10 … the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Yet, Pope Francis has an interfaith agenda that does NOT teach that one must accept Jesus in order to be saved. This is s FALSE GOSPEL! Yet, many are being taken in by it.

Mike Gendron also had a link in that February 1, 2016 newsletter to the following from the improperly named publication Christianity Today regarding the growing acceptance of the pontiff’s agenda by Protestant ministers.

From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope

More than half of evangelical pastors say Pope Francis is their brother in Christ.

More than one-third say they value the pope’s view on theology, and 3 in 10 say he has improved their view of the Catholic Church.

Those are among the findings of a new study of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors, released this week from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

Overall, the survey found that many Protestant pastors have taken a liking to Pope Francis.

Nearly 4 in 10 say the pope, known for his humility and concern for the poor, has had a positive impact on their opinions of the Catholic Church. Almost two-thirds view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and “brother in Christ.” …

Evangelical pastors report more skepticism about Pope Francis than their mainline Protestant counterparts. While 80 percent of mainline Protestant pastors believe the pope is a true Christian, only 58 percent of evangelical pastors agree. About a quarter of evangelicals (23%) disagree, while one-fifth (19%) are not sure.

“The fact that some pastors don’t see the pope as their ‘brother in Christ’ seems strange to many outside Protestantism and evangelicalism, I imagine,” Stetzer said. “However, the forerunners of most Protestant pastors—from Luther, to Wesley, to Spurgeon, to many others—certainly did not see the pope as their ‘brother in Christ.’

“Within a few centuries, the pope has gone from anti-Christ to ‘brother in Christ’ for a lot of Protestants.”

In an editorial for CT this week, evangelical pastor Chris Castaldo argued that among Protestants and Catholics, disagreement over religious authority and salvation fades as piety trumps doctrine. http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/september/antichrist-brother-christ-protestant-pastors-pope-francis.html

Piety trumps doctrine?

Christianity Today really means that it believes that outward claims of piety trump truth.

Notice what Jude wrote from the New Jerusalem Bible (a Roman Catholic approved translation into the English language):

3 I felt that I must write to you encouraging you to fight hard for the faith which has been once and for all entrusted to God’s holy people. (Jude 3, NJB)

That scripture would also not suggest that doctrinal compromise is appropriate for the faithful. Jude does not say go along to get along. Actually, Jude advocates the opposite.

Notice also what Jesus taught:

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17-19)

Christians are to be sanctified, meaning be SET APART for religious purposes, by the truth in the word of God. Those who compromise the word of God are not true followers of Jesus.

The ecumenical movement ignores the truth. It keeps moving forward and the Vatican, Protestants, and many others are moving down a slope they should not.

Since many of the Protestants and Catholic have resolved certain of their differences and ignored some of their own histories, many of them are poised for greater unity. Such unity will happen, but it is not endorsed by the Bible. The Bible is clear that a group of churches, led by one from the city of seven hills, is to be avoided and will end in disaster (Revelation 17:1-10,18).

Martin Luther, the basic founder of the Protestant Reformation, taught against the concept that the Roman Catholic Church was the one true church. And while most modern Protestant leaders would agree on that point, Martin Luther took this much further. Specifically, Martin Luther taught that the Roman Catholic Church was the “great harlot of the Apocalypse” (O’Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, originally 1916, 1987 ed., p.9). Martin Luther also claimed that the Pope was the “Antichrist” (Ibid).

Notice also the following from some early Protestant leaders:

(1) Martin Luther:… We here are of the conviction that the Papacy is the seat of the true and real antichrist…

(2) John Calvin: I deny him to be the vicar of Christ. … He is an antichrist — I deny him to be the head of the Church (John Calvin Tracts, Volume 1, pages 219, 220). (Standish CD, Standish RR. The Evangelical Dilemma. Hartland Publications, 1996, p. 162)

Samuel Lee (a seventeenth century Rhode Island minister): It is agreed among all main lines of the English Church that the Roman pontiff is the Antichrist (Samuel Lee, The Cutting off of Antichrist, p. 1). (Standish CD, Standish RR. The Antichrist is Here. Hartland Publications, 1988, p. 16)

With all the ecumenical discussions going on these days, many Protestant leaders no longer seem to believe in the papal-antichrist position of many of their early leaders. But they should or they will not be able to tell Jesus Christ from the final Antichrist (watch also Will Jesus Christ be called the Antichrist?).

It may be of interest to note that it was people in groups with COG ties that originally made the claim that the papal office was that of Antichrist.

Notice what the Catholic Cardinal Newman wrote about it in the 19th 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 Dr. 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 three heretical bodies, between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, in consequence of their being submitted to persecution for their opinions:

“In the middle of the eleventh century, numerous emigrants from Thrace and the East had established themselves in the north of Italy, and especially in the neighbourhood of Milan; and some, despising a fixed habitation, or unable to obtain one, itinerated throughout various parts of France and Germany. The doctrines of these sects exhibit various shades of extravagance and error, and appear to have had a close affinity with the Oriental Manichees or Paulicians, from whom they are historically descended…they despised all external religion, ridiculed the office and powers of the priesthood, the efficacy of the Sacraments, and especially the use of baptism.”—Pp. 28-30.

These were the Albigenses, the first of the three independent families of heresy above mentioned…It would appear from these that the Albigenses founded their opposition to the Church on a Manichæan principle, viz., that, as there was an evil deity, and he the author of the visible world, so was he author also of the visible Church, which in consequence was “the devil’s basilica and synagogue of Satan,” and, in the language of the Apocalypse, “the mother of fornications.” (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).

What the Cardinal seems to be teaching is that beginning in the fourth-seventh century one or two groups apparently began to feel that the Pontifex Maximus was an antichrist and that one who calls himself Pontifex Maximus may be the final antichrist. The Roman bishops did not refer to themselves by the pagan title of Pontifex Maximus (literally meaning the “greatest bridge-builder” between mortals and the gods) until the late 4th century–hence that is probably why they began to be referred to as “anti-Christ” or at least his representative back then.

It is of interest to note that groups that traced their descent from the Paulicians were clearly teaching a version of the papal antichrist doctrine in the eleventh and later centuries. Some affiliated with the Paulicians and Albigenses were in the Church of God (see articles The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present; 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).–hence an understanding of the papal antichrist view has long been a Church of God view.

Although the Bible teaches that there are many antichrists, but that one will later be the Antichrist. And essentially all the antichrists preach a message different from John–hence we in the Churches of God recognize that to a degree, all false religious teachers claiming Christianity are antichrists–we do not limit this to Roman or Orthodox Catholic leaders (we also include Protestant leaders).

This seems to be consistent with what one group told Bernard the Inquisitor, in the early 14th century, who reported:

…they claim that there is a double Antichrist, one spiritual or mystical and the other the real, greater Antichrist…(Bernard Gui: Inquisitor’s Manual, Chapter 5. Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. http://phi.kenyon.edu/Projects/Margin/inquisit.htm 04/09/07).

As far as a spiritual or mystic antichrist and a later one, that is consistent with what the Apostle John taught in 1 John 2:18. The “spiritual antichrists” would be perhaps all false Christian leaders (this is not at all limited to Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders, it includes even some who claim to be in the Church of God), while the “real Antichrist” is the final MAJOR false prophetic leader.

For the record, I should state that I agree with certain Catholic leaders who have claimed that the final Antichrist will be some type of antipope (see Catholic Prophecies: Do They Mirror, Highlight, or Contradict Biblical Prophecies?).

Jesus DID NOT come so that the world would be united in this age. Notice what Jesus said:

51 ‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:51, NJB).

Scripture warns against a coming ecumenical unity which it teaches will be successful:

4 They prostrated themselves in front of the dragon because he had given the beast his authority; and they prostrated themselves in front of the beast, saying, ‘Who can compare with the beast? Who can fight against it?’ 5 The beast was allowed to mouth its boasts and blasphemies and to be active for forty-two months; 6 and it mouthed its blasphemies against God, against his name, his heavenly Tent and all those who are sheltered there. 7 It was allowed to make war against the saints and conquer them, and given power over every race, people, language and nation; 8 and all people of the world will worship it, that is, everybody whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the sacrificial Lamb’s book of life. 9 Let anyone who can hear, listen: 10 Those for captivity to captivity; those for death by the sword to death by the sword. This is why the saints must have perseverance and faith. (Revelation 13:4-10, NJB)

The Bible warns against an end time Babylon unity (Revelation 17:1-6; 18:1-9).

In Zechariah, the Bible warns against a coming Babylon and shows that proper unity will not happen until after Jesus returns:

10 Look out! Look out! Flee from the land of the north — Yahweh declares- for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven — Yahweh declares. 11 Look out! Make your escape, Zion, now living with the daughter of Babylon!

12 For Yahweh Sabaoth says this, since the Glory commissioned me, about the nations who plundered you, ‘Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye. 13 Now look, I shall wave my hand over them and they will be plundered by those whom they have enslaved.’ Then you will know that Yahweh Sabaoth has sent me! 14 Sing, rejoice, daughter of Zion, for now I am coming to live among you -Yahweh declares! 15 And on that day many nations will be converted to Yahweh. Yes, they will become his people, and they will live among you. Then you will know that Yahweh Sabaoth has sent me to you! 16 Yahweh will take possession of Judah, his portion in the Holy Land, and again make Jerusalem his choice. (Zechariah 2:10-16, NJB; note in translations such as the NKJV these are shown as Zechariah 2:6-12)

The ecumenical and inter-faith movements that the Vatican and the Eastern Orthodox leaders are promoting are clearly condemned by the Bible and should not be encouraged.

The Bible itself warns against the type of ecumenical unity that Pope Francis and various Protestant leaders are working towards (e.g. Revelation 17). The Bible does not teach that Christians will have the type of unity that the Vatican claim to want UNTIL AFTER THE FALL OF BABYLON (Zechariah 2:10-13 NKJV; Zechariah 2:12-16 NJB).

The Bible tells that the ecumenical/inter-faith movement will also end in destruction (Revelation 18 & 19). This is not something that Catholics nor the Protestants should want. But Pope Francis keeps pushing for it.

Despite the Reformation rallying cry of sola Scriptura, the reality is that the Catholics of Rome and the Protestant both must ignore many scriptures for the type of reconciliation and unity that many are pushing for.

Only the return of Jesus Christ and the millennial kingdom will bring the true type of unity that the world needs. The Vatican and many of the Protestants are pushing for a type of unity that will end in disaster according to the Bible.

Our newest BNP video covers this and is available online: Pope Francis’ Celebration of Reformation’s 500th Anniversary.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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? watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! and World Council of Churches Peace Plan.
Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus? Will the final “Anti-Christ” be Jewish, insist on Saturday, be opposed to the trinity, and bring in the millennium? Certain Catholic writings indicate this, while others take a different view, but what does the Bible show? A related sermon is Will Jesus Christ be called the Antichrist?
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
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?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
United Nations: Humankind’s Last Hope or New World Order? Is the UN the last hope for humanity? Or might its goals end up with sinister results? A related video would be United Nations and Vatican Are Planning the New World Order.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
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?
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?
Could Pope Francis be the Last Pope and Antichrist? Former Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis. According to some interpretations of the prophecies of the popes by the Catholic saint and Bishop Malachy, Pope Francis is in the position of “Peter the Roman,” the pontiff who reigns during tribulations until around the time of the destruction of Rome. Do biblical prophecies warn of someone that sounds like Peter the Roman? Could Francis be the heretical antipope of Catholic private prophecies and the final Antichrist of Bible prophecy? Could a Jesuit be “the black pope”?
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People. A short YouTube of prophetic interest may be Barack Obama and the State of the Apocalypse.
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?
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

First they came for the Jews, then will they come for the true Christians?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


Anti-Semitic graffiti

COGwriter

Antisemitism is in the news again:

February 1, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. and Canada again were targeted by bomb threats Tuesday, including one in a suburb of Toledo, reports say. …

“We are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats,” David Posner, a director at the JCC Association of North America who advises centers on security, tells Reuters.

In Sylvania, Ohio, a suburb west of Toledo, the YMCA/JCC was evacuated after a bomb threat late Tuesday morning, 13abc.com reports. Three bomb-sniffing dogs and the Joint Terrorism Task Force were called to the scene, but nothing was found.

Centers in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, Utah, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada, also received threats, Reuters reports.

According to USA Today, 27 centers in 17 states received threats on Jan. 18, and 16 center in nine states on Jan. 9. A center in Bexley, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, was targeted on Jan. 18. http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2017/02/bomb_threats_again_targeted_at.html

At least 13 Jewish Community Centers were evacuated Tuesday, after the third wave of bomb threats this month was made against the religious centers.

This latest spate of threats, which came in between 10 a.m. and noon, targeted JCCs in at least 11 states and is being investigated by the FBI.

“The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country,” the FBI said in a statement emailed to NBC News. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this is matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.” http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jewish-community-centers-face-third-wave-bomb-threats-nationwide-n715086

Antisemitism and threats against Jewish facilities are wrong.

My wife and I attended Worldwide Church of God services in a Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, California for a number of years. At least once it was hit by anti-Semitic graffiti that I am aware of.

Sadly, in the Greco-Roman world, various ones who claimed Christianity have long promoted antisemitism.

And persecution against ‘Jews’ has often turned into persecution against those with biblical Christians practices.

According to Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, the Eastern Orthodox saint and Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century stated:

Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.

The way that Jesus, who was Jewish, taught differently was love. Jesus never taught to have ‘nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd.’ Roman Catholics refer to Constantine as ‘Constantine the Great,’ but he obviously held anti-semitic views.

Notice something that Jesus the Jew said what would happen to Christians:

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

Around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics which included persecution against Christians who held to the original faith and had practices, such as the date of Passover, the same as the Jews (see also Persecutions by Church and State).

In 387, the Eastern Orthodox saint and bishop John Chrysostom preached the following:

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

John Chrysostom preached the following in his Homily Against the Jews (of which there are at least eight anti-Semitic homilies):

But do not be surprised that I called the Jews pitiable. They really are pitiable and miserable (I:II:1).

So the godlessness of the Jews and the pagans is on a par. But the Jews practice a deceit which is more dangerous (I:VI:4).

Do you see that demons dwell in their souls and that these demons are more dangerous than the ones of old? (I:VI:7).

Since it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle line, let me extend my instruction further. Let me show that, by fasting now, the Jews dishonor the law and trample underfoot God’s commands because they are always doing everything contrary to his decrees. When God wished them to fast, they got fat and flabby (VI:IV:2).

Indeed, the fasting of the Jews, which is more disgraceful than any drunkenness, is over and gone (VIII:I:5).

John Chrysostom is considered to be a major Roman Catholic saint. He is one of the four ‘doctors of the church’ who is shown supporting a large black chair that is called the Cathedra Petri (Chair of Peter) in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The late Joseph Tkach once referred to this chair as Satan’s throne (see Satan’s Throne).

The improperly named Protestant publication Christianity Today once had a link titled, “Person of the Week: John Chrysostom” which went to an article titled: John Chrysostom Early church’s greatest preacher. So, Protestants too, endorse an anti-semite. More on him can be found in the article John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Antisemite.

These anti-Semitic views have included persecutions against Christians who the Greco-Romans considered to have “Jewish” practices.

People like the Albigneses were condemned by various councils. And one, the Council of Albi (sometimes spelled Alby) in 1254 apparently stated:

They savour of Judaism…they observe the Jewish sabbath, but say that the holy Dominical day is no better than any other day; let them be accursed (Quoted in Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 64).

Notice what a former Roman Catholic priest reported:

It has been reckoned that in the last and most savage persecution under Emperor Diocletian about two thousand Christians perished, worldwide. In the first incident of Pope Innocent’s Crusade ten times that number of people were slaughtered. Not all were Albigensians. It comes as a shock to discover that, at a stroke, a pope killed far more Christians than Diocletian (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolberg Press, Dublin, 2000, pp. 160-161).

(The entire persecution that Roman Emperor Diocletian unleashed lasted from 303-313 A.D; the inquisition-persecution that Pope Innocent III unleashed lasted hundreds of years.)

It perhaps should be pointed out that sometimes those in the true Church of God have been considered to be secretly Jews by some in Greco-Roman faiths:

In the Middle Ages, the Popes and the Councils were successful in destroying the Jewish revolutionary movements which appeared within Christianity in the form of false teaching and which were introduced by those who were Christians in appearance but Jews in secret. The latter then recruited upright and good Christians for the arising heretical movement by persuading the latter in a crafty way.

The secret Jews organised and controlled in secret manner the movements, which were the creative and driving force of wicked false teachings, such as those of the Iconoclasts, the Cathars, the Patarines, the Albigensians, the Hussites, the Alumbrados and others. (Pinay, Maurice. The Plot Against the Church, Part Four Chapter One. Translated from the German and Spanish editions of the same work. 1962)

The above book is still recommended by and for many Catholics (though some others distance themselves from it).  Hence, some of the Greco-Romans have considered some of whom we in the Continuing Church of God include in our tracing of our spiritual ancestors (like some of the Cathars and Albigenses) to have been a secret Jewish group that only professed Christ.

As far as Protestant leaders themselves with anti-semitic views, one can notice the some of the teachings of Martin Luther, who wrote in the 16th century:

My heart is fuller of these thoughts than my tongue can tell. I have come to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God as all the prophets have predicted. He who neither reads nor understands this, as yet knows no theology, in my opinion. And so I presume the men of Cologne cannot understand the Scripture, because it is necessary that such things take place to fulfill prophecy. If they are trying to stop the Jews blaspheming, they are working to prove the Bible and God liars (“Martin Luther’s to George Spalatin,” from Luther’s Correspondence and Other Contemporan, Letters, trans. by P. Smith (1913), Vol. 1, pp. 28-29).

Furthermore he wrote:

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews and who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them…They are so blind and stupid that they see neither the words found in Genesis 17 nor the whole of Scripture, which mightily and explicitly condemns this lie…They are real liars and bloodhounds who have not only continually perverted and falsified all of Scripture with their mendacious glosses from the beginning until the present day. Their heart’s most ardent sighing and yearning and hoping is set on the day on which they can deal with us Gentiles as they did with the Gentiles in Persia at the time of Esther…The worse a Jew is, the more arrogant he is, solely because he is a Jew — that is, a person descended from Abraham’s seed, circumcised, and under the law of Moses. David and other pious Jews were not as conceited as the present-day, incorrigible Jews…I wanted to present this to us Germans so that we might see what rascals the blind Jews are and how powerfully the truth of God in our midst stands with us and against them (Medieval Sourcebook: Martin Luther (1483-1546): On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543)

Martin Luther advised his followers:

…to burn down Jewish schools and synagogues, and to throw pitch and sulphur into the flames; to destroy their homes; to confiscate their ready money in gold and silver; to take from them their sacred books, even the whole Bible; and if that did not help matters, to hunt them of the country like mad dogs (Luther’s Works, vol. Xx, pp. 2230-2632 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.99).

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch (Martin Luther (1483-1546): On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543 as quoted from Luther’s Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971). pp 268­293).

The sad reality is that leaders esteemed by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants have all advocated horrible antisemitism.

Sadly, many in Europe and elsewhere hold anti-Semitic views. It is little wonder that many Jews are leaving and others are considering to leave.

We will see persecution greatly increase before Jesus returns. And this will not be limited to Jews, but will include all real Christians (cf. Daniel 7:25; see also Persecutions by Church and State).

The underlying antisemitism throughout the world will allow for this, especially when the time will come when the Beast’s government will mandate it (Revelation 13:15-17).

Some items of related interest may include:

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. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church.
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?
John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Antisemite This late fourth/early fifth century Bishop of Constantinople is considered to be a ‘saint’ and ‘doctor’ by the Church of Rome, Church of England, and the Eastern Orthodox, but he did not teach Christ’s love.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?
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 basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Black History Month: Christian history and news related to Africa

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


Celebration of Black History Month

COGwriter

February was designated as Black History Month in 1969 and observed since 1970 by various Americans. Its origins are even earlier:

February 1, 2017

February marks the launch of Black History Month, a time to recognize the central role and revolutionary work of black people in America.

Historian Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week in 1926 and it officially evolved into a month-long celebration forty years later. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-black-history-month-we-declare-we-too-are-america_us_588fa515e4b0c90efeff4088

Instead of focusing on secular history in the USA, this post will attempt to cover some of the history of Christianity in Africa as well as some African-related news, but will start with scripture.

The New Testament discusses in some detail the conversion of at least one influential African and shows that God intended him to receive the message:

6 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water.

And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:26-39).

According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, at least one of the twelve apostles preached into Africa:

XV. Simon Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, A.D. 74. (Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Edited by William Byron Forbush. Copyright 1926/1967. Zondervan, Publishing, Grand Rapids (MI), pp. 3-5).

Another source agrees that the apostles got to Africa (Ruffin C.B. The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary. Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (IN), 1997, pp. 17-171).

Early church history shows that there were both true as well as false Christians in northern Africa (as well as other places).

In the third century, Origen noted in northern Africa that there were two groups that he considered to be “Ebionites,” one who believed in the virgin birth (and that would be those who this paper suggests were also known as the Nazarenes) and those who did not:

Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law,—and these are the twofold sect of Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin, or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings…(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book V, Chapter 61).

The true Christians in Africa were not those associated with Origen (please see what happened in Alexandria), nor those that denied the virgin birth. The true Christians were those who professed Jesus and had practices similar to those of the Jews.

Origen of Alexandria, however, was not a true Christian. Origen even appeared to recognize several non-canonically writings as scripture and had been influenced by some Gnostic teachings. Sadly, Origen referred to The Epistle of Barnabas like he does actual parts of the Bible (Origen. Contra Celsus, Book I, Chapter 63), seems to also do so with the falsely titled Gospel of Peter (Origen. Commentary on Matthew, Book X, Verse 17. ANF), and even calls what I consider to be the “demonically-influenced” Shepherd of Hermas as “divinely inspired” (Cited in Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance).

Antioch (which is now in present day Syria) probably resisted much of this Gnostic influence until some time into the early third century. And while Origen and some others recognized the falsely titled “Gospel of Peter” it was specifically condemned by Serapion, Bishop of Antioch. Serapion went to see a group that he thought was Christian in the seaside port of Rhossus, which is located southwest of Alexandria. When he got there he was disappointed to learn that they were reading this “Gospel of Peter” (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book VI, Chapter XII, verse 1, p. 125 ) and thus he realized that they were not all part of the “true faith”:

For we, brethren, receive both Peter and the other apostles as Christ; but we reject intelligently the writings falsely inscribed with them, knowing that such were not handed down to. When I visited you I supposed that all of you held the true faith…(Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book VI, Chapter XII, verses 3-4, p. 125-126).

Thus while there were some true Christians in northern Africa in the early part of the third century, Serapion ran into false ones. And like the rest of the world, sadly the majority of people in Africa (and elsewhere) who profess the religion of Christ, are not practicing the religion of the Christ of the Bible as the true church was only expected to be a “little flock” (for more information, please see the article The History of Early Christianity).

It probably should also be mentioned that around the time of Serapion, at least one African leader named Nepos stood up to allegorists like Origen. The Catholic Encyclopedia reported:

An Egyptian bishop, Nepos, taught the Chiliastic error that there would be a reign of Christ upon earth for a thousand years, a period of corporal delights; he founded this doctrine upon the Apocalypse in a book entitled “Refutation of the Allegorizers” (Chapman, John. “Dionysius of Alexandria.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 14 Aug. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05011a.htm>.).

A nineteenth century anti-millennial scholar named Giovanni Battista Pagani went as far as to write the following about Nepos and those who supported the millennium:

…all those who teach a millennium framed according to Jewish ideas, saying that during the millennium, Mosaic law will be restored…These are called Judaical Millenarians, not as being Jews, but as having invented and upheld a millennium according to Jewish taste. The principal authors of this error were Nepos, an African Bishop, against whom St. Dionysius wrote his two books on Promises; and Apollinaris, whom St. Epiphanius confound in his work against heresies (Pagani, Giovanni Battista. Published by Charles Dolman, 1855. Original from Oxford University. Digitized Aug 15, 2006, pp. 252-253).

It should be of interest to note that neither Nepos nor Apollinaris were Jews, but were condemned for having a religion that had “Jewish” beliefs. And since Apollinaris is a Catholic saint (see article Apollinaris of Hierapolis), it should be clear that the respected and non-Jewish Christian leaders in the early third century clearly did hold to ideas that were condemned by the allegorists.

The following from Dionysius clearly shows that Nepos was still respected after he died (Nepos died prior to Dionysius’ mid-third century writing of the following) and really did not refute him from a biblical perspective:

But as they produce a certain composition by Nepos, on which they insist very strongly, as if it demonstrated incontestably that there will be a (temporal) reign of Christ upon the earth, I have to say, that in many other respects I accept the opinion of Nepos, and love him at once for his faith, and his laboriousness, and his patient study in the Scriptures, as also for his great efforts in psalmody, by which even now many of the brethren are delighted. I hold the man, too, in deep respect still more, inasmuch as he has gone to his rest before us. Nevertheless the truth is to be prized and reverenced above all things else. And while it is indeed proper to praise and approve ungrudgingly anything that is said aright, it is no less proper to examine and correct anything which may appear to have been written unsoundly. If he had been present then himself, and had been stating his opinions orally, it would have been sufficient to discuss the question together without the use of writing, and to endeavour to convince the opponents, and carry them along by interrogation and reply. But the work is published, and is, as it seems to some, of a very persuasive character; and there are unquestionably some teachers, who hold that the law and the prophets are of no importance, and who decline to follow the Gospels, and who depreciate the epistles of the apostles, and who have also made large promises regarding the doctrine of this composition, as though it were some great and hidden mystery, and who, at the same time, do not allow that our simpler brethren have any sublime and elevated conceptions either of our Lord’s appearing in His glory and His true divinity, or of our own resurrection from the dead, and of our being gathered together to Him, and assimilated to Him, but, on the contrary, endeavour to lead them to hope for things which are trivial and corruptible, and only such as what we find at present in the kingdom of God. And since this is the case, it becomes necessary for us to discuss this subject with our brother Nepos just as if he were present (Dionysius of Alexandria. From the Two Books on the Promises. Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight. Viewed 8/14/08).

In other words, Nepos knew his Bible, but did not hold to the same position that allegorists like Dionysius of Alexandria held. But those who held to Judaeo-Christian beliefs, while slightly chastised, simply were almost never condemned by the early allegorists. Mainly, because the early allegorists knew that the original Christians held to beliefs and practices that the allegorists considered to be Jewish–and at this stage, the allegorists simply did not have the ability to condemn the literalists because most who professed Christ at the time knew that the literalists had ties to the original apostolic church. (More information on faithful Christians in northern African locations can be found in the article Arabic Nazarenes May Have Kept Original Christian Practices.)

Africa has long had groups of people who have kept the seventh-day Sabbath. In the 21st century, there are Church of God groups throughout Africa.

The Continuing Church of God has many congregations in various African countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. We also have members/tentative supporters that we know of in Uganda, South Africa, Sudan, and elsewhere. I personally visited Africa back in 1985 and was able to visit Africa again in 2014 (information related to a conference held there is in the post CCOG Letter and Nairobi Conference). I  am  scheduled to fly to Africa in a few days for a conference we plan to have with Continuing Church of God leaders across Africa. This conference is planned to happen in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Continuing Church of God has sent songbooks, Bible News Prophecy magazines, other books, history booklets, literature, and other support to those in Africa (including food for the hungry and support for widows and orphans). In addition to English, the Continuing Church of God has had literature, such as the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God (see KATIKA LUGHA YA KISWAHILI) and our Study the Bible Course (see Somo 1 Katika Kiswahili), translated into Kiswahili which is the ‘linga-Franca’ in many nations in Africa.

While English is understood in many parts of Africa, it is often a second or third language. Right now, in addition to English and Kiswahili, we have produced literature in Ekegusii and Dholuo. We are currently also have limited information in Chichewa and a few other African languages (to see a list go to: www.ccog.org).

We also now have a YouTube channel called CCOGAfrica. This channel features messages from ministers in Africa and mainly in African languages (see also CCOGAfrica YouTube channel now live!).

Africans are sometimes willing to stand up for what is right when others do not.

Some items of related interest may include:

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?
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, and Dholuo.
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? Two related sermons are available Millennial Utopia and The Millennium.
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?
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

WND: Did the Reformation go far enough?

Saturday, January 28th, 2017


Poster for 500th Reformation Anniversary Reconciliation

COGwriter

Joseph Farah, editor of World News Daily, reported the following:

Did the Reformation go far enough?

Did you know that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation?

That’s right. On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, launching a powerful movement that transformed the entire world.

While much good resulted from the Reformation that followed, there were some really destructive aspects of the Protestant revolution. …

But did the Reformation go far enough?

By 1517, the church had also fallen into some ugliness that was not swept away by the Reformation. …

The ugliness that began before the Reformation and survived it intact was “replacement theology,” the notion that the church replaced Israel in terms of the inheritances promised by God. In my book, for instance, there’s biblical evidence to suggest this notion was taking root while at least one of the Apostles was still alive.

In 3 John 9-11, we read about something astonishing – the Apostle John and other Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus were kicked out of the church!

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”

We don’t know a lot about Diotrephes. This is the only reference to him in the Bible. But all we need to know is revealed in this short book. His name means “nourished by Jupiter” or “nourished by Zeus.” That sounds like a strange name for a believer in Jesus in the first century, given that all of his early followers were Jews. He was obviously not a Jew because he was bearing a pagan name. It was common for early gentile believers with pagan names to change them. Diotrephes did not. He kept his pagan name that glorified a pagan Greek god.

We also know that Diotrephes spoke maliciously against the inspired Jewish apostolic leadership and refused to allow messianic Jewish believers into his assembly.

Think about that! The Apostle John was not welcome in a “Christian church.”

That’s how early replacement theology began.

It continued over the centuries with Luther and John Calvin and their Reformation.

Here’s a quote from Luther: “What shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews. Since they live among us and we know about their lying and Blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice. … their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one will may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His son and His Christians.”

John Calvin wrote of the Jews: “Their rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.”

But that’s not biblical.

And that was not reform. http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/did-the-reformation-go-far-enough/#R6P8QUJljxEs91oH.99

Protestants, as a general rule, do NOT follow many of the practices of the Apostle John or the Bible (holy days, for one example, come to mind–see Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

It should be understood that in addition to racial hatred against Jews, Martin Luther and many of his followers killed many people and destroyed property.

Martin Luther encouraged that and was not apologetic about it:

… burn down Jewish schools and synagogues, and to throw pitch and sulphur into the flames; to destroy their homes; to confiscate their ready money in gold and silver; to take from them their sacred books, even the whole Bible; and if that did not help matters, to hunt them of the country like mad dogs (Luther’s Works, vol. Xx, pp. 2230-2632 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.99).

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch (Martin Luther (1483-1546): On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543 as quoted from Luther’s Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971). pp 268­293).

Pure devilry is urging on the peasants…Therefore let all who are able, mow them down, slaughter and stab them, openly or in secret, and remember that there is nothing more poisonous, noxious and utterly devilish than a rebel.  You must kill him as you would a mad dog…

The authorities must resolve to chastise and slay as long as they can raise a finger…It may be that those who are killed on the side of the authorities is really a martyr in God’s cause.  A happier death no man could die.  The present time is so strange that a prince can gain Heaven easier by spilling blood than by praying (Luther M.  Against the Murderous and Rapacious Hordes of the Peasants, May 4, 1525-Erl, 24, 287, ff.  As cited in O’Hare PF.  The Facts About Luther, p. 232).

I, Martin Luther, slew all the peasants in the rebellion, for I said that they should be slain; all their blood is upon my head. But I cast it on the Lord God, who commanded me to speak this way (Werke, Erl. Edition, lix, p. 284 ‘Table Talk’ as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.96).

It is reported that 100,000 perished at the time of the peasant ‘rebellion.’ It should also be understood that politics, and not just religion, was a major factor that led to the ‘military accomplishments’ of the Protestant reformers and their supporters.

Dr. Luther should have realized that real Christians would not have done that (see also Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?).

Protestant’s claimed ‘sola Scriptura’ when they separated from Rome. Yet, the fact that Lutherans (and Roman Catholics for that matter) even have ‘altars’ where they consume ‘communion’ is not scriptural.

Perhaps the two biggest problems with Martin Luther was that he was NOT a converted Christian and he did NOT believe in sola Scriptura. Notice the following from a Protestant scholar who supported Martin Luther:

Although classical theology is certainly not without its problems, historically it is almost always the case that the appeal to the Bible alone…leads to the reemergence of ancient heresies…The Reformation began with the slogan “To the sources!” and sought to deal a fatal blow to the place of church tradition in shaping life and faith…Despite their efforts not to be influenced by the authority of tradition, each of the major Reformation churches found itself borrowing from the past and building up a traditionalism of its own…when the Anabaptists and other radicals discovered Scripture to be teaching things the Lutherans found detestable, Lutherans learned the usefulness of tradition…(Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 335,350-351).

The “usefulness of tradition”?  In other words, teaching traditions of men even when they contradict scripture.

It should be noted that the above is not limited to one Protestant scholar, Martin Luther truly did not believe in rallying cry sola scriptura and even discounted several books of the Bible (an article of related interest may be Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?). (The Anabaptists are mentioned in the article on the Sardis Church era).

The reality is the fact that Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics accept tradition, they call many biblical practices that were enjoined upon and practiced by the early New Testament church, heresies. But if practices were original and based upon the Bible, can they logically be called heresies?

Are not the heretics, those that changed the teachings of the Bible in favor of traditions of men?

A major problem with the Protestant Reformation was that many of its leaders were murderous anti-Semites, who would not rely on the Bible for many doctrines, and would not “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Those of us in the true Church of God believe that all 66 books of the Bible are inspired and profitable for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16). Because we also believe that we are not allowed to add or subtract from the Bible (see Revelation 22:18-19), we cannot follow the teachings of Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther—who changed or diminished the importance of at least 18 of them (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jonah, Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation). For quotes from Martin Luther and other information, check out the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?

As far as Joseph Farah is concerned, he seems to understand some of the problems the Protestant Reformers had, but, in my view, not enough of them.

As far as the Protestants go, if they had gone far enough to embrace original Christianity, they would not be teaching a lot of what they do today.

Furthermore, many of the institutional Protestant groups want some type of unity with the Church of Rome. The 500th anniversary later this year is intended to be a type of ecumenical celebration. Essentially the view is that since the Vatican is no longer believed to sell indulgences (though it, in my view, still does with some of its practices related to purgatory) and has eliminated some items Protestants find objectionable, then the Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics should consider each others brothers in Christ and overlook the remaining differences.

While many of the Greco-Roman-Protestants will do that, the Bible warns against the type on ecumenical unity that they are working towards.  The type of unity that they are working towards is not biblical. It is ‘Babylonian’ (cf. Revelation 17).

As far as unifying with those who will not accept the original and true faith, Christians are warned:

4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities…” (Revelation 18:4-5)

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. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 ‘I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Real Christians will be separate from those that truly will not be set apart by the truth of the Bible (John 17:17).

Thus, no true Christian would endorse the ultimate goal of the reconciliation of the 500th anniversary of what is considered to be the start of the Reformation. These people do not truly believe the Bible and we are to realize that we must remain spiritually-separate from them.

The Continuing Church of God, which is NOT Protestant, traces its history from the apostolic church established in Acts 2 and holds to the original, biblical, doctrines that the early Christians had (see Continuing History of the Church of God).

Many biblical doctrines that early Christians held to are NOT held to by Protestants today.  Nor the Church of Rome or the Eastern Orthodox for that matter.

Those interested in the truth can prove this if they are willing.

Some items of possibly related interest to help you do this may include:

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 differs 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. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians? A related sermon would be: Christians, Violence, and Military Service.
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.
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. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
United Nations: Humankind’s Last Hope or New World Order? Is the UN the last hope for humanity? Or might its goals end up with sinister results? Two related videos include UN’s ‘New Universal Agenda’ is a False Gospel! and United Nations and Vatican Are Planning the New World Order.
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
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?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links 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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.