Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Herbert Armstrong on where the Bible starts chronologically

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

COGwriter

Where does the Bible actually begin?

In terms of time order, it would John 1:1, and not Genesis 1:1 as many assume.

Here is an explanation from the late Herbert W. Armstrong:

If one should ask, where do you find the actual beginning of events in the Bible, most who possess even a slight knowledge of the world’s “best seller” would say, “Why in Genesis chapter one verse one, of course.” WRONG!

The real beginning, in order of time sequence, is found in the New Testament, in the first chapter of John, verse one. The events portrayed in Genesis occurred later – possibly even millions of years later. But the event recorded in John 1:1 reveals an existence perhaps long prior to the time God created the earth and the material universe. Note it: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” It continues, “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” The term “all things” is translated in Hebrews 1:3, in the Moffatt translation, as “the UNIVERSE.” The entire UNIVERSE was made by Him!

The fourteenth verse of John 1 says: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The Personage called the Word was the one who ultimately-yet more than 1900 years ago-was born Jesus Christ. The name, “the Word,” is translated from the original Greek text, and means, literally, just what is translated into English -”Spokesman.” But He was not the Son of God “in the beginning.” Yet the Scriptures reveal that He has always existed, and always will – “from eternity to eternity.” He was “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life . . .” (Heb. 7:3).

So think on this, if you will! Originally there existed only these two Spirit Personages, self-existent. They had creative powers – they had perfect supreme minds – they possessed perfect, holy and righteous CHARACTER.

But THERE WAS NONE ELSE – NOTHING ELSE! There was no matter – no material universe – YET! No other living being or thing. Only these two, equal in mind and powers, except that God was supreme in authority, and the Word in perfect harmony under that authority. They were of one mind, in absolute agreement.

But ALL THINGS – the universe and everything existing in it – was made by the Personage called the Word. Yet, as we read in Ephesians 3:9: “God. . . created ALL THINGS by Jesus Christ.” And prior to becoming Jesus Christ, He was “the Word!” Also, in His human life Jesus said He spoke only as the Father directed. Yes. THINK!

In the eternity even prior to “prehistory” there were these two Supreme Beings. Alone! In the emptiness of space! No other life forms – no other living beings! Nothing else!…

The Perfect Creation

The original Hebrew words (the words originally written by Moses) imply a perfect creation. God reveals Himself as Creator of perfection, light, and beauty. Every reference in the Bible describes the condition of any completed phase of God’s creation as “very good” – perfect. This first verse of the Bible actually speaks of the original PHYSICAL creation in its entirety – the universe – including the earth, perhaps millions of years ago – as a perfect creation, beautiful and perfect as far as its creation was a finished, completed work. God is a perfectionist!In Job 38:4,7, God is speaking specifically of the creation of this earth. He said all the angels (created “sons of God”) shouted for joy at the creation of the earth. This reveals that angels were created before the creation of the earth – and probably before the material universe.

The suns, planets, and astral bodies are material substance. Angels are individually created Spirit beings, composed solely of Spirit. It will come as a surprise to many to learn that angels inhabited this earth BEFORE the creation of man. This passage from Job implies it.

Angels on Earth Sinned

Other passages place angels on earth prior to man. Notice II Peter 2:4-6. First in time order were “angels that sinned.” Next in time sequence, the antediluvian world beginning with Adam, carrying through to the Flood. After that, Sodom and Gomorrah.This Book of books, containing the revealed knowledge of the Creator God, tells us that God created angels as composed of Spirit. But can you imagine angels becoming sinning angels? Angels were created with power of thought, of decision and of choice, else they have no individuality or character. Since sin is the transgression of God’s law, these angels rebelled against God’s law, the basis of God’s government.Notice carefully what is revealed in II Peter 2:4-5:

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.

These verses show that universal sin brings universal destruction to the physical earth. The antediluvian sin, culminating with the flood, was worldwide, universal sin. Notice: “…the earth was filled with violence …. for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth …. for the earth is filled with violence.” (Gen.6:1 1-13). “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the [Eternal]…. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (verses 8-9). All flesh had sinned – over the whole earth. But only Noah “walked with God.” So, the Flood destroyed the whole earth – all but Noah and his family.The homosexual and other sins of Sodom and Gomorrah spread over the territory of those two cities. And physical destruction came to their entire area. The sin of the angels was worldwide; the destruction of the physical earth was worldwide. The verses quoted above place the sinning of the angels prior to the antediluvian sins that started with Adam, prior to the creation of man. And that should be a surprise revealing of one phase of the missing dimension in knowledge! Angels inhabited this earth before the creation of man. And the government of God was administered on earth until the rebellion of the sinning angels.

How long these angels inhabited the earth before the creation of man is not revealed. It might have been millions – or even billions – of years. More on that later. But these angels sinned. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). And God’s law is the basis of God’s government. So we know these angels, apparently a third of all the angels (Rev. 12:4), sinned – rebelled against the government of God. And sin carries penalties. The penalty for the sin of the angels is not death, as it is for man. Angels are Immortal Spirit beings and cannot die. These Spirit beings had been given dominion over the PHYSICAL EARTH as a possession and an abode. The universal, worldwide sin of the angels resulted in the physical destruction of the face of the earth…

Now back to Genesis 1: 1-2. Verse 1, as stated above, implies a perfect creation. God is the author of life, of beauty, of perfection. Satan has brought only darkness, ugliness, imperfection, violence. Verse 1 shows the creation of a perfect earth, glorious and beautiful. Verse 2 reveals the result of the sin of the angels.

“And the earth was [became] without form, and void.” The words “without form and void” are translated from the Hebrew tohu and bohu. A better translation is “waste and empty” or chaotic and in confusion.” The word “was” is elsewhere in Genesis translated “became,” as in Genesis 19:26. In other words, the earth, originally created perfect and beautiful, had now become chaotic, waste, and empty, like our moon, except its surface was covered with water.

David was inspired to reveal how God renewed the face of the earth: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30).

Now another surprise for most readers. Here is another bit of the missing dimension in knowledge, actually revealed in the Bible, but unrecognized by religion, by science, and by higher education. From verse 2 of Genesis 1 on, the remainder of this first chapter of the Bible is not describing the original creation of the earth. But it is describing a renewing of the face of the earth, after it had become waste and empty as a result of the sin of the angels.

What is described from verse 2 on, in the supposed “Creation chapter” of the Bible, did occur, according to the Bible, approximately 6,000 years ago. But that could have been millions or trillions of years after the actual creation of the earth described in verse 1! I will comment later on the length of time it might have taken before all earth’s angels turned to rebellion.

The earth had become waste and empty. God did not create it waste and empty, or in confusion. God is not the author of confusion (I Cor.14:33). This same Hebrew word – tohu – meaning waste and empty, was inspired in Isaiah 45:18, where it is translated “in vain.” Using the original Hebrew word, as originally inspired, it reads: “For thus saith the [Eternal] that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [tohu], he formed it to be inhabited.”

Continue now with the remainder of verse 2 (Gen. 1) (the earth had become chaotic, waste, and empty): “And darkness was upon the face of the deep [the ocean or fluid surface of the earth]. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness” (verses 2-4).

Satan is the author of darkness. The rebellion of the angels had caused the darkness. God is the author of light and truth. Light displays and enhances beauty, and also exposes evil. Darkness hides both. The verses which follow in this first chapter of the Bible describe the renewing of the face of the earth, yielding beautiful lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetation – then the creation of fish and fowl, animal life, and finally man. (Armstrong HW. Incredible Human Potential, 1978)

So, yes God and the Word existed from the beginning and before anything else was made (John 1:1).

And while there was a creation in Genesis 1:1, there was a gap between that and the recreation that was needed in Genesis 1:2. Thus, this explanation (which, in my view, is the one that bests agrees with the records, despite flaws, of science) is commonly referred to as the gap theory. And yes, I hold to it (see How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? ).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is God’s Existence Logical? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true? Here is a link to a YouTube sermon titled Is it logical to believe in God?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what ‘pseudo-scientists’ refuse to acknowledge. Here is a link to a YouTube video titled Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.
How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Does the Bible allow for the creation of the universe and earth billions of years ago? Why do some believe they are no older than 6,000 years old? What is the gap theory? Where the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long? Here is a link to a sermon: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory. Here is a link to a related article in Spanish: ¿Cuán vieja es la Tierra? ¿Cuán largos fueron los Días de la Creación? ¿Teoría de la brecha?
Questions and Answers from Genesis Many wonder about certain early events that this article discusses.
Where Did God Come From? Any ideas? And how has God been able to exist? Who is God?
How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? Here is a biblical article which answers what many really wonder about it.
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? There is also a video titled What is the meaning of your life?

Church history: Church of God or Church of Rome?

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

History of Early  Christianity

COGwriter

Was the early Christian church led by a pontiff from Rome?

If the Apostle Peter was the primary leader of the original Christian Church of God, then was his successor Linus or would it make more sense that it was the Apostle John?

Many would be surprised what Roman Catholic scholars admit and teach about early church history.

The Church of Rome teaches:

…that Peter founded the Church of Antioch, indicates the fact that he laboured a long period there, and also perhaps that he dwelt there towards the end of his life…It is also probable that Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor for it can scarcely be supposed that the entire period between his liberation from prison and the Council of the Apostles was spent uninterruptedly in one city, whether Antioch, Rome, or elsewhere… Peter returned occasionally to the original Christian Church of Jerusalem…The date of Peter’s death is thus not yet decided; the period between July, 64 (outbreak of the Neronian persecution), and the beginning of 68 (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is not biblically clear that Peter founded the church in Antioch (Stephen or Barnabas seems more likely, see Acts 11:19-22), but he probably spent a lot of time there Antioch (Galatians 2:11). However, it is clear even from Catholic history that Peter spent little time in Rome and thus did not fix his residence there. Even though certain scholars like J.P. Kirsch believe that Peter went to Rome, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, even he admits this about Peter,

we possess no precise information regarding the details of his Roman sojourn (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. 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).

No precise information means that the Roman Church has essentially relied on accounts, nearly all of which were written over 100 years after Peter’s death, that say that he was in Rome and/or died in Rome. This is especially true because the biblical accounts never specify Rome and those that do specify locations of Peter point to Asia Minor and Jerusalem.

Hippolytus, considered by Roman Catholic scholars, as one of their greatest early theologians wrote:

Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia (Hippolytus. On the Twelve Apostles Where Each of Them Preached, and Where He Met His End. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus even these Roman accounts suggest that Peter could not have been in Rome very long (and biblical evidence, Acts 3:1-11; 4:13; 8:14; Galatians 2:9, suggests he was often with the Apostle John). A careful reading of 2 Peter 1:14-18 and Matthew 17:1-5 indicates that Peter was with James or John right before he died. Yet, since James died in Judea (Acts 12:1) by 39 A.D. and there is no evidence that John was in Rome prior to 90 A.D., this would suggest that Peter was NOT in Rome when he wrote that “the laying away of my tabernacle is at hand” (2 Peter 1:14, RNT)–for more information on Peter’s death and burial, including information from Catholic scholars (such as the Antonio Ferrua who is credited for finding Peter’s body, but later stated that he did not believe that he found Peter), see the article The Apostle Peter.

Thus the statement “Early Christian history tells us that before his death, he fixed his residence at Rome” seems biblicallyand historically false.

Interestingly, when personally addressing the leadership for the Christians who lived in Rome, Paul never mentioned Peter or any who were later claimed to be Roman bishops, even though he listed at least 27 others (see Romans 16).

The Catholic Encyclopedia article about the Epistle to the Romans mentions this about Paul not mentioning Peter:

The complete silence as to St. Peter is most easily explained by supposing that he was then absent from Rome. Paul may well have been aware of this fact, for the community was not entirely foreign to him. An epistle like the present would hardly have been sent while the Prince of the Apostles was in Rome and the reference to the ruler (xii, eight) would then be difficult to explain. Paul probably supposes that during the months between the composition and the arrival of the Epistle, the community would be more or less thrown on its own resources. (Merk A. Transcribed by W.G. Kofron. Epistle to the Romans. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Another explanation is that Peter simply was not in Rome long enough for Paul or any early writer to consider that Peter was actually the bishop of Rome.

Note that it takes MONTHS from when Paul could have written the epistle and for it to get to Rome. How could Paul have possibly assumed that that Peter was not in Rome then and would not be in it for months? Only because he knew Peter was not some type of bishop of Rome! Because if Peter was the bishop of Rome, Paul would have most likely at least referred to him or his absence in this epistle, as at some time he would have expected Peter to read it in Rome. But this never took place. Since it is believed that “Romans was likely written in the fall of A.D. 57″ (The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1876), it is most likely that Peter had not even been to Rome (as until at least 54 A.D. he had meetings in Jerusalem–see below).

Eamon Duffy, a Catholic scholar and a member of the Pontifical Historical Commission, observed:

Paul’s epistle to the Romans was written before either he or Peter ever set foot in Rome, to a Christian community already in existence (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p.8).

Some modern Catholic scholars have admitted that Peter and the other Apostles were not a bishops, and could not have taken up residence in any city:

A “bishop” is a residential pastor who presides in a stable manner over the church in a city and its environs. The apostles were missionaries and founders of churches; there is no evidence, nor is it likely at all, that any one of them ever took up permanent residence in a particular church as its bishop (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 14).

The cited Catholic quotes show that the Church of Rome acknowledges that Peter labored long in Asia Minor (hence, he could not truly have been the bishop of Rome then as they are quite far apart–it normally took MONTHS to travel from Rome to Asia Minor in those days, plus there were no telephones or fast ways to communicate), tended to return to Jerusalem (which is near Asia Minor), spent little time in Rome, could not have been the bishop of any city, and that there are no precise details of anything that Peter did in Rome. While it is possible that Peter visited and even died in Rome (and this has been contested by some scholars), that of itself would not seem to be a reason for the city of Rome to have to be the place of the headquarters of the true church.

There also is no known early document that states that upon his death Peter bequeathed the cathedra to anyone (recall also that Jesus Himself died in Jerusalem, and the importance of His death to the Church is more significant than that of Peter). When Jesus discussed the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16) with Peter, this was in the Jerusalem area. When the Holy Spirit was given in Acts 2, this was in Jerusalem. Later, Peter and the other apostles spent a great deal of time in Asia Minor.

Furthermore, Rome was a Gentile area, not full of circumcised Israelites.

Who does the Bible teach had that responsibility? Look at what Paul wrote:

7. But contrariwise when they had seen that to me was committed the Gospel of the
prepuce, as to Peter of the circumcision
8. (for he that wrought in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also
among the Gentiles) (Galatians 2:7-8).

Thus it does not appear that Peter was considered to be the bishop of Rome during Paul’s lifetime (and they both died about the same time) as Rome was clearly a Gentile area. If Peter, and he alone, had the keys, the fact that, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia “Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor” shows that PETER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE TIME THAT HE “HAD THE KEYS”! IT IS AN ABSOLUTE FACT THAT PETER WAS NOT THE BISHOP OF ROME BEGINNING WITH THE START OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH that began on the Pentecost after Jesus was resurrected (Acts 1-2). NOR COULD PETER HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE THIRTY-PLUS YEARS AFTER THAT TIME AS HE TRAVELED WITHIN ASIA MINOR AND TO JERUSALEM REPEATEDLY.

Rome is simply not close enough to Asia Minor or Jerusalem for Peter to have been based out of Rome. Thus Antioch or other regions within Asia Minor would seem to have been the main areas that Peter possibly could have had an episcopate. Actually, the book of Galatians specifically mentions that Paul visited Peter on two occasions, and both of those were in Jerusalem and not Rome. Why? Because Rome was still not the headquarters of the Church at a very late time in Peter’s life. This is clearly documented from the Bible:

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days (Galatians1:15-18).

21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ (Galatians 1:21-22).

1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me…
9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:1,9).

What does all that mean? According to The Catholic Encyclopedia,

St. Paul’s conversion was not prior to 34, nor his escape from Damascus and his first visit to Jerusalem, to 37 (St. Paul. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911).

Thus the earliest possible date for Paul to have made his second recorded visit to Jerusalem with Peter was 54 A.D. (3 years plus 17 plus 34 A.D., and it may have been later, like 57 A.D.). And from there, Peter told Paul to go to the Gentiles again. Hence Peter could not have become the Apostle to the Gentiles in Rome until much later (if at all)! Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia admits,

It is comparatively seldom that the Fathers, when speaking of the power of the keys, make any reference to the supremacy of St. Peter (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Power of the Keys. 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).

Also notice the following from a Roman Catholic priest and scholar:

The conferral of the power of the keys of the kingdom surely suggests an imposing measure of authority, given the symbolism of the keys, but there is no explicit indication that the authority conferred was meant to be exercised over others, much less that it be absolutely monarchical in kind…In Acts, in fact, Peter is shown consulting with other apostles and even being sent by them (8:14). He and John are portrayed as acting as a team (3:1-11; 4:1-22; 8:14). And Paul confronts Peter for his inconsistency and hypocrisy…Paul “opposed him to his face because he was clearly wrong” (Galatians 2:11; see also 12-14) (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 30-31).

Notice that even traditions of early Catholic writers did not teach that Peter was given sole authority as the devout Catholic historian von Dollinger noticed:

Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these three texts, yet not one of them who commentaries we possess–Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas–has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter!

Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter’s confession of faith in Christ; often both together (Cited in Hunt D. A Women Rides the Beast. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR) p. 146).

It was not until quite late that the Roman Catholic decided that Peter was the first bishop of Rome:

(254-57)…Stephen I seems to have been the first pope to have appealed to the classic “you are Peter’ text in Matthew’s Gospel (16:18) as the basis for Roman primacy…Peter was not regarded as the first Bishop of Rome until the late second or early third century (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 27,28).

Hence, it may be that the idea that Peter was the only apostle that church leadership could be traced through and that it must be Rome does not appear to have much early support.

It needs to be understood that as far back as the second century, both Irenaeus and Tertullian taught that some version of “apostolic succession” occurred in areas other than Rome. Furthermore, even into the 21st century, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the legitimacy of churches of the Eastern Orthodox based in cities such as Constantinople , Jerusalem, and Alexandria who were founded by someone other than the Apostle Peter (which tradition states were founded by the Apostles Andrew, James, and the gospel-writer Mark, respectively). More information can be found in the article Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom?

It is important to note that several Catholic scholars recognize that there is no proof that anyone was actually considered to be a bishop in Rome until sometime in the second century. One such Catholic scholar, A. Van Hove, wrote this about early bishops:

  • This local superior authority, which was of Apostolic origin, was conferred by the Apostles upon a monarchic bishop, such as is understood by the term today. This is proved first by the example of Jerusalem, where James, who was not one of the Twelve Apostles, held the first place, and afterwards by those communities in Asia Minor of which Ignatius speaks, and where, at the beginning of the second century the monarchical episcopate existed, for Ignatius does not write as though the institution were a new one.
  • In other communities, it is true, no mention is made of a monarchic episcopate until the middle of the second century (Van Hove A. Transcribed by Matthew Dean. Bishop. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, although there were bishops in Jerusalem and Asia Minor in the first and second centuries, there is no mention of a monarchic episcopate (a bishopric) in other places, like Rome, until the middle of the second century.

Furthermore, even some more recent Catholic scholars understand that the New Testament provides no support for the idea that one of the apostles appointed someone to be “bishop of Rome”.

The consensus of scholars is that there was NOT an apostolic succession of bishops starting from Peter in Rome. And notice that according to Roman Catholic scholars, the first clear bishop of Rome was not until the middle or latter half of the second century:

ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop. Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142-ca. 155) did the Roman Church have a monoepiscopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). Those who Catholic tradition lists as Peter’s immediate successors (Linus, Anacletus, Clement, et al.) did not function as the one bishop of Rome (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.25).

To begin with, indeed, there was no ‘pope’, no bishop as such, for the church in Rome was slow to develop the office of chief presbyter or bishop…Clement made no claim to write as bishop…There is no sure way to settle on a date by which the office of ruling bishop had emerged in Rome…but the process was certainly complete by the time of Anicetus in the mid-150s (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, 2nd ed. Yale University Press, London, 2001, pp. 9, 10,13).

…we have good reason to conclude that by the time of Anicetus (155-66), the church of Rome was being led by a bishop whose role resembled Ignatius or Polycarp (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 143).

We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…”Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?”…the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222).

As I see the problem and its possible solution, it is not a question of apostolic succession in the sense of an historical chain of laying on of hands running back through the centuries to one of the apostles; this would be a very mechanical and individualistic vision, which by the way historically could hardly be proved and ascertained. The Catholic view is different from such an individualistic and mechanical approach. Its starting point is the collegium of the apostles as a whole; together they received the promise that Jesus Christ will be with them till the end of the world (Matt 28, 20). So after the death of the historical apostles they had to co–opt others who took over some of their apostolic functions. In this sense the whole of the episcopate stands in succession to the whole of the collegium of the apostles. To stand in the apostolic succession is not a matter of an individual historical chain but of collegial membership in a collegium, which as a whole goes back to the apostles by sharing the same apostolic faith and the same apostolic mission (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Keynote speech from the Conference of the Society for Ecumenical Studies, the St. Alban’s Christian Study Centre and the Hertfordshire Newman Association at St. Alban’s Abbey, Hertfordshire, England, on May 17, 2003).

In March, 2006…I argued unity, unanimity and koinonia (communion) are fundamental concepts in the New Testament and in the early Church. I argued: “From the beginning the episcopal office was “koinonially” or collegially embedded in the communion of all bishops; it was never perceived as an office to be understood or practised individually” (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Cardinal Kasper to Anglican Communion “The Aim of Our Dialogue Has Receded Further”. CANTERBURY, England, JULY 31, 2008 (Zenit.org)).

These are astounding admissions. These Roman Catholic scholars are essentially admitting that there was no possible succession of bishops beginning with Peter in Rome, there was NOT one bishop who led all of Christendom from the beginning, but that the succession of a bishop from the Apostle John to Polycarp did occur (and it occurred probably 60 years earlier).

When Ignatius wrote his various letters in the early second century, he referred to Polycarp as a bishop and mentioned bishops in nearly all of his letters. However, in his letter to the Romans he neither addresses it to any particular leader in Rome, nor does he ever refer to anyone as a bishop in Rome.

Various Catholic writings state that Hegesippus came to Rome in the mid-2nd century and asked about its early leaders. F.A. Sullivan and R.P. McBrien seem to suggest that those Romans apparently mentioned names of leaders they had heard of (as most would have had no direct contact with any from the first century) as there were no early records with names. Because there was, at the time of Hegesippus’ visit, a bishop of Rome and there had long been bishops in Jerusalem and Asia Minor, F.A. Sullivan also suggests that Hegesippus and later writers presumed that the early Roman leaders were also monarchical bishops, even though that is not considered to have been likely.

While there were certainly a lot of religious leaders in Rome, since the actual Christian Church (according the Catholics and nearly all those who profess Christ) began in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Christ’s crucifixion, it is important to realize that both the Bible and Roman Catholic approved writings support the idea that there were true churches in the region the Bible refers to as Asia Minor (nearly all of which is now part of the country of Turkey).

When the Apostle John, for example, wrote the Book of Revelation, he was the last of the original 12 apostles to remain alive (and as an Apostle he ALSO would have been was part of the foundation of the church as Ephesians 2:19-22 teaches). And he specifically addressed Revelation “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4), and later listed those seven (vs. 1:11) all of which were in Asia Minor (here is an article on The Seven Churches of Revelation). He also never positively addressed the church in Rome in that or any other or his known writings (nor, except in his gospel account, did he ever mention Peter). Furthermore, The Catholic Encyclopedia records this about John,

John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body…the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province (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).

But there is no scriptural reason to think that John only considered that the churches in Asia Minor were under his leadership. Actually, in one of his other letters, John also wrote “To the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1)–which appears to be a reference to the entire Church (see also Revelation 12:17). Hence he felt he had a leadership position related to the entire Church, not just those in Asia Minor.

This also appears to be confirmed from this quotation that Eusebius records:

Take and read the account which rims as follows: “Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit…” (Eusebius. Church History, Book III, Chapter 23. Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Referring to Irenaeus’ writings, Eusebius writes:

And in the third book of the same work he attests the same thing in the following words: “But the church in Ephesus also, which was founded by Paul, and where John remained until the time of Trajan, is a faithful witness of the apostolic tradition.” (Eusebius. Church History. Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Now John greatly outlived Peter and is believed to have lived as late as 95-100 A.D. John was an apostle, the early leaders of Rome were only presbyters. The Bible clearly teaches that apostles were first (I Corinthians 12:28). Notice that even Roman Catholic scholars understand:

Unlike Peter, the pope is neither an apostle nor an eyewitness of the Risen Lord (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.33).

Since that is true, it makes no sense that the Apostle John would be somehow subordinate to Linus, Anacletus, Clement, and Evaristus, all of whom have been claimed to have been pontiff after Peter died and while John was still alive.

What is true, and what does make sense, is that John had a disciple named Polycarp who became the bishop of Smyrna. While Ignatius may have had prominence in-between, his writings clearly endorsed Polycarp’s leadership. Polycarp was probably 25-30 years old when John died. Polycarp himself lived until his was martyred around 156 A.D. Look at what else is admitted by the Catholic historian Irenaeus about the early Church in Asia Minor, under the leadership of Polycarp:

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 (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).

So we have from this Roman Catholic source that Polycarp and his successors in Asia Minor (at least until the time that Irenaeus wrote this, around 180 A.D.) practiced the true teachings that they learned from the apostles (it should be noted that these churches had several doctrines that differ from those currently held by the Roman Church, some of which are documented in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome). This is also later essentially confirmed by Tertullian:

Anyhow the heresies are at best novelties, and have no continuity with the teaching of Christ. Perhaps some heretics may claim Apostolic antiquity: we reply: Let them publish the origins of their churches and unroll the catalogue of their bishops till now from the Apostles or from some bishop appointed by the Apostles, as the Smyrnaeans count from Polycarp and John, and the Romans from Clement and Peter; let heretics invent something to match this (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum. Circa 200 A.D. as cited in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is probable that Tertullian was aware of elders in Rome prior to Clement (as Irenaeus wrote prior to him), as well as bishops of Smyrna prior to Polycarp, but that Tertullian felt that the apostolic succession could only have gone through Polycarp (who he listed first) or Clement. It must be understood that Tertullian’s writing above, according The Catholic Encyclopedia, is one of the most important writings regarding the Catholic Church. Specifically the Catholic Church teaches:

Among the writings of the Fathers, the following are the principal works which bear on the doctrine of the Church: ST. IRENÆUS, Adv. Hereses in P.G., VII; TERTULLIAN, De Prescriptionibus in P. L… (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus Catholics themselves must recognize the importance of these statements by Tertullian–there were two churches with proper apostolic claims as far as he was concerned. And not just Rome–but one in Asia Minor that had been led by the Apostle John through Polycarp and his descendants.

Here is a link to a YouTube video titled: Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
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?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
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.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
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?
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?

Was anti-semitism a factor in Vatican recognition of the state of Palestine?

Thursday, May 14th, 2015


Jews in Poland had to Wear the Above Badge After Germany Invaded in WWII (Daniel Ullrich, Threedots)

COGwriter

A reader sent me a link to the following in a Jewish publication:

May 14, 2015

It is since 2012 that the Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, spoke of the “State of Palestine” in its official documents. So the decision of the Holy See to recognize this non-existent state should not be a surprise. But the treaty is the first legal and bilateral document in which the Vatican speaks of the “State of Palestine” and no more of the “Organization for the Liberation of Palestine” (PLO): it is, in fact, an official recognition. A symbolic and historic breakthrough. …

For over forty years after the Jewish State won independence in 1948, the Vatican adopted a diplomatic policy copying that of Israel’s enemies: total non-recognition of the Jewish statehood. Despite the acceptance by all Western nations, including, at the beginning, the Communist bloc, theVatican’s recognition of Israel occurred only in 1993.The same Church that didn’t recognize Israel opened diplomatic relations with the PLO, a terror organization whose goal is the “liberation” of the Holy Land from the Jews who live between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. The Church formally recognized Israel’s existence only two decades after Israel’s foe, Egypt, signed a peace treaty with the Jewish State.

And the Vatican had diplomatic relations with over 130 states. It acknowledged their legitimacy even as it disputed, in some cases, their borders.

Why has such a different standard been applied to Israel? Because of anti-Semitism and the aversion they felt upon seeing Israel again among the family of nations. For the Vatican, an independent Jewish State bearing the name “Israel,” with Jerusalem as its capital, and a renewal of life in the land of the Bible, has been the most complex theological Christian problem and a total contradiction to Church dogma.

And now, because of the same anti-Semitism, the Vatican has hurried to recognize the “State of Palestine”, this Trojan horse against the Jewish people, a tool to dismantle the State of Israel and a proto-Nazi entity from which all the Jews are to be cleansed.

We note in shock Pope Francis’ eagerness to recognize the “State of Palestine” before it has even yet arisen and we recall the eagerness of another Pope to recognize the Nazi regime just four months after it was established.  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/16922#!

Here is something related to certain evangelical Protestants:

The diplomatic recognition of the “state of Palestine” by the Vatican will open the door to a new wave of anti-Semitism and endanger millions of Israeli Jews and Arabs, charge several leading evangelicals who have written about the end times.

And the controversial decision by Pope Francis is even leading to allegations the Roman Catholic Church will be an adversary to Christians and the state of Israel during those times.

New York Times bestselling author and filmmaker Joel Richardson slammed the decision as “an act of profound hatred toward the Jewish people globally.”

In an interview with WND, the author of “When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God,” observed: “To the uninformed, from the outside, recognizing ‘Palestine’ might seem to be reasonable. Certainly, the God of Heaven loves the Palestinian people as much as the Jew.

“But not to those who have a better grasp of the various political, religious and security related realities on the ground. None who are informed will deny that the establishment of a Palestinian state will compromise the security of the millions of Israeli Jews and Arabs in a profound way.”  …

Talk-show host, pastor and author Carl Gallups agrees that the impact of the Vatican’s decision will be catastrophic. However, the author of “Final Warning: Understanding the Trumpet Days of Revelation” says he isn’t surprised.

Gallups told WND: “This really should come as no huge shock to the world, especially to the Christian world, because this pope has made similar statements supporting the Palestinian cause. As far as I know, this is the first time he’s called for a Palestinian state explicitly, however. And this is disturbing prophetically and geopolitically, because it will fuel the current wave of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the globe.

“It is important to remember there has never been a nation state in that area except Israel. So some kind of ‘Palestinian nation’ is only going to be used to fuel this fire by the leftists and godless who are mobilized by hatred of Israel and Jews. Though I’m an evangelical, I find it so tragic that this statement is coming from the pope, who so many believe should be a bastion of Christianity. But this pope is a leftist theologically speaking and politically speaking,” he said.  …

Tom Horn … says the Vatican has never intended for Jerusalem to belong to one state…Horn alleges: “Rome ostensibly pleads the case of Palestinians and Catholics who want to make pilgrimage, but in truth, there is a wealth of evidence that the Vatican wants to possess Jerusalem as its own. Even more, there are high-level Jewish officials waiting in the wings to hand it over.” http://www.wnd.com/2015/05/israelis-security-compromised-by-vatican-recognizing-palestine/#QCLxf8ATKuKUSL1L.99

While I am not convinced that the official reference to the ‘state of Palestine’ was intended to be anti-semitism by the Vatican, there has long been anti-semitism in the Church of Rome, but not only Rome.

Throughout history, well known Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant leaders have made anti-semitic statements and encouraged hatred against the Jews.

I believe one reason for this is to discourage people from considering that the predominant churches that call themselves Christian do not want their members to consider that the true Christian church had more religious practices in common with the Jews that their churches.

Scholars recognize that the original Church of God in Jerusalem was led by circumcised Jews, who were faithful to Christian teachings, yet had practices that the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants have condemned.

Some improperly believe that the fourth-century sun-god worshiping Emperor Constantine implemented, and believed in, true religious freedom for Christians in his “Edict of Milan” decree in 313:

When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I, Licinius Augustus, fortunately met near Mediolanurn (Milan), and were considering everything that pertained to the public welfare and security, we thought, among other things which we saw would be for the good of many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence of the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the Christians and others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred; whence any Divinity whatsoever in the seat of the heavens may be propitious and kindly disposed to us and all who are placed under our rule. And thus, by this wholesome counsel and most upright provision we thought to arrange that no one should be denied the opportunity to give his heart for the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion that he should think best for himself, so that the Supreme Deity, to whose worship we freely yield our hearts, may show in all things His usual favor and benevolence. …

Therefore, your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases ; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion. (Goldstein N. Religion and State. Infobase Publishing, 2010, p. 190)

Instead actually believing that, the Emperor authorized persecution. Around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics:

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

“FORASMUCH, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together. We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and our care in this respect extends so far as to forbid the holding of your superstitious and senseless meetings, not in public merely, but in any private house or place whatsoever. …

And in order that this remedy may be applied with effectual power, we have commanded, as before said, that you be positively deprived of every gathering point for your superstitious meetings, I mean all the houses of prayer, if such be worthy of the name, which belong to heretics, and that these be made over without delay to the catholic Church; that any other places be confiscated to the public service, and no facility whatever be left for any future gathering; in order that from this day forward none of your unlawful assemblies may presume to appear in any public or private place. Let this edict be made public.” (Chapter LXV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics.)

Some of those referred to as Paulians (Paulicians) and Cataphrygians were part of the true Church of God; thus they would have rejected Sunday , kept the Sabbath on Saturday (like the Jews and like what early Christians did; see The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad) and would have rejected many other doctrines that Emperor Constantine endorsed. And like some other persecutions, the Edict included those truly in the Church of God and those not in the true church.

According to Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, in the fourth century, the sun-god worshiping Roman emperor Constantine stated concerning the date of Passover:

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

Jesus never stated that the Jews were detestable (He was a Jew) nor that He wanted to change the date of Passover. Constantine endorsed changing the date of Passover to a Sunday, whereas the original Christians kept it on the 14th of Nisan, the same date as the Jews.  This was one of the reasons that Constantine initiated persecution against Christians.

And is was not just Emperor Constantine.

Orthodox seers and writers have also taken positions against those with original Judeo-Christian practices.  One example would be a 1249 A.D. vision of “Blessed Hieronymus Agathaghelos” which claimed that “the blasphemies of the Sabbatians have stained and soiled for many centuries” (Cited in Tzima Otto, p. 135; Dr. Otto herself refers to those with Nazarene/Judeo-Christian beliefs as “Christian traitors” on p. 240)–Hieronymus Agathaghelos also predicted their public execution (Tzima Otto, 134,135,240).

There is a long history of Greco-Roman church leaders attempting to eliminate those part of, or sympathetic to, the Church of God.

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 Innocent III unleashed lasted hundreds of years.)

It perhaps show 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.

Now, of course, from time to time, some leaders distance themselves from antisemitism.  Notice the following:

May 11, 2015

The Catholic and Protestant churches in Austria have apologized for their anti-Semitism during and prior to the Holocaust.  …

The Catholic Church “must acknowledge its share of responsibility for the creation of a climate of disdain and hatred” for Jews before the Nazi period and the lack of “pity and solidarity with our Jewish fellow citizens” during the Holocaust, said Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Associated Press reported.

The Austrian Protestant Council of Churches also expressed “particular shame” for “complicity against Jews and other groups … that were considered ‘unfit to live.’”

As far as being “unfit to live,” that is consistent with an antisemitic teaching of Protestant reformer Martin Luther. Sadly, millions of Jews were killed with Catholic and Protestant complicity during WWII.  The apology, which of itself should have been done, will not bring them back, nor stop some persecutions that the Bible teaches will occur in the future.

By promoting anti-semitism, those associated with the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants have often feared to have anything in common with the Jews, and have been afraid to practice the original Christian faith, which did have a few practices in common with the Jews.

Furthermore, as I mentioned yesterday, Rome has long wanted Jerusalem and wrest control away from the Jews.  And no one should think that it really wants to give that control to the Muslims.  Recall it was pope who started the Crusades in the Middle Ages to take control of Jerusalem from the Muslims.

The Vatican basically believes that to show that it represents the universal religion of the world that it needs sovereign territory in Jerusalem to better project that image to the world.

The Vatican wants the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill and it wants a more important role in Jerusalem.

But, perhaps it should again be pointed out that some Catholic writers have indicated that an antipope will be established in Jerusalem:

Priest E. Sylvester Berry (published 1920):  The two horns denote a twofold authority – spiritual and temporal.  As indicated by the resemblance to a lamb, the prophet will probably set himself up in Rome as a sort of anti-pope…Antichrist will establish himself in Jerusalem…with his ‘lying wonders’… (Berry ES.  The Apocalypse of St. John, 1920.  Quoted in Culleton RG.  The Reign of Antichrist.  Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 199-200).

Much of the above teaching is consistent with certain scriptures.

The recognition of the state of Palestine is mainly a step to get the Vatican closer to its real goal.

Whether or not anti-semitism was behind the recognition of ‘the state of Palestine’ by the Vatican yesterday,Rome wants Jerusalem.  And the historical reality is that the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants have long had anti-Semitic practices and have condemned Christians who held to the same practices that Jesus and His early faithful followers have.

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?
Messianic Judaism Beliefs Differ from the Continuing Church of God Both groups keep the seventh-day Sabbath, but have important differences in doctrines and practices. Here is a link to a related sermon: Messianic Jewish Beliefs.
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.
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?
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 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
Gaza and the Palestinians in Bible Prophecy What does the Bible teach about Gaza and the fate of the Palestinians? Here is a link to a related video: Gaza and Palestine in Prophecy.

Have popes supported abortion?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015


Colosseum of Rome (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

 

Abortion is wrong and it is good that many Catholics now realize this.

But not all of them.  I recall hearing former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, mention that the Church of Rome was not always opposed to abortion.  And on that point, Nancy Pelosi was correct.

Most Catholics would generally be surprised to hear that in the third century, Callistus Bishop of Rome, openly allowed abortion.

In circa 217 A.D., Callistus became bishop of Rome. The Roman Catholic saint Hippolytus reported:

Callistus…a man cunning in wickedness, and subtle where deceit was concerned, (and) who was impelled by restless ambition to mount the episcopal throne…Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VII)

Notice that Callistus allowed (or at least permitted) abortion and adultery.

Note what The Catholic Encyclopedia admitted this about Callistus:

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

Yet, the following is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church on abortion and was approved by the late Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI (when Benedict XVI was still known as Cardinal Ratzinger):

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to moral law (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2271. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 606).

However, they seem to be ignoring the Roman Bishop Callistus (as well as later Popes and others) who did allow abortion.

Furthermore notice what one Protestant scholar wrote about other Roman Catholic Popes:

Most Catholics are not aware that the infallible Church and popes have changed their minds several times on this topic–unthinkable from today’s perspective.

From the fifth century onward, Aristotle’s view that the embryo goes through stages from vegetable to animal to spiritual was accepted. Only in the final stage was it human. Thus Gregory VI (1045-6) said, “He is not a murderer who brings about abortion before the soul is in the body.” Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than 40 days since it wasn’t yet human. His successor, Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible, disagreed. His Bull of 1588 made all abortions for any reason homicide and cause for excommunication. His successor, Gregory XIV, reversed that decree. In 1621 the Vatican issued another pastoral directive permitting abortion up to 40 days (Hunt D. A Women Rides the BeastHarvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR), 1994, pp. 519-520).

Quite similarly notice what one former Roman Catholic priest wrote:

Most Catholics assume that the soul is infused at conception…For fourteen hundred years until the late nineteenth century, all Catholics, including the popes, took it for granted that the soul is not infused at conception…

From the fifth century, the church accepted without question, the primitive embryology of Aristotle. The embryo began as a non-human speck that was progressively animated.

In the fifteenth century, moralists began to ask whether it was not possible in certain circumstances to get rid of the foetus without fault…Some went further. They said it was permissable to save a mother’s life even after the foetus was humanized…

Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than forty days since it was not human…His successor, the tempestuous Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible, disagreed entirely. In his Bull Effraenatum of 1588, he said all abortions for whatever reason were homicide and were penalized by excommunication reserved to the Holy See. Immediately after Sixtus died, Gregory XIV realized that, in the current state of theological opinion, Sixtus’ view was too severe. In an almost unique decision, he said Sixtus’ censures were to be treated as if he had never issued them (De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ. Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 2000, p.p 374-375).

Even some Catholic monks put out instructions for how women could perform abortions in the Middle Ages:

Looking for Medical Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts

Spiegel – March 25, 2010 excerpts…

Obscure passages can also be found in “Macer floridus,” another standard work of monastic medicine. “When a pregnant woman takes in the scent of the wilting flower through her nose, this shall abort the fruit of the womb,” a monk wrote in punchy Latin hexameter. He was referring to the flower of the wild arum plant. The same effect could be achieved, he added, “if the crushed root is inserted into the uterus from below with a small wool suppository.”

The abortion method involving the suppository could even have worked. “Arum is quite toxic,” says Mayer. However, the intervention was probably not completely safe for the pregnant woman. “In the Middle Ages, toxic substances were used very often,” Mayer explains. “The people in the monasteries knew about the risks and side effects, but they often had no better alternatives.”

Monks giving abortion tips? The medical historian doesn’t find this outlandish at all. “The Catholic Church only formulated its rigid position on abortion in the 19th century,” Mayer explains. It was not as clear in the past, he adds. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,685432,00.html

Although there is no evidence that any legitimate Church of God leader endorsed abortion, sadly some affiliated with the Roman Church have.

So, while it is good that some Catholics now oppose abortion, Catholics may wish to consider that their church has sometimes held to different positions.

Most people, Catholic or otherwise, simply do not know enough about the real truth about early church history.

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

Callistus (217-222) He is the first bishop known to have been a criminal prior to his election. He was also accused of a variety of corrupt acts, including allowing indulgences and infanticide (abortion).
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman’s Right to Choose Do you know what the Bible teaches on this? Has the Roman Catholic Church allowed abortions? What about the real Church of God? Some may also, or instead, wish to view the YouTube video Abortion, the Bible, and US Debt.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja viva do deus? Tambien Español: Cuál es fiel: ¿La iglesia católica romana o La Iglesia del Dios Viviente? Auch: Deutsch: Welches zuverlässig ist: Die Römisch-katholische Kirche oder die lebende Kirche von Gott?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
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?

Herbert Armstrong on Pentecost

Monday, May 11th, 2015


Artist Depiction of Pentecost (Cadetgray)

COGwriter

The Day of Pentecost for 2015 is May 24th. Unlike other biblical holy days, some version of the Day of Pentecost is observed by a lot of mainstream churches, both Catholic and Protestant. And of course, since Pentecost is a biblical holy day, it is observed by Church of God groups like the Continuing Church of God. Pentecost is the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the shape of fire (Acts 2:3-4).

Here are quotes from the late Herbert W. Armstrong about it in his booklet Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days Which?:

What You Should Know About Pentecost

IS THIS the only “day of salvation”? Most churches generally teach that all who die “unsaved,” or do not “get saved” before the second coming of Christ, can never receive salvation.

They assume there is a great contest in progress between Christ and Satan. They believe Christ came to save the world, and by means of all these churches, through which He is desperately trying to “get the world saved.”

On the other hand, the clever deceptive devil is doing all he can to prevent people from being “saved.” And they seem to believe there is a time limit on the contest.

We are now near the time for the Second Coming of Christ, but when Christ returns to earth in person He will find Himself helpless utterly unable to save the world from Satan’s clutch because then “it will be too late.” “Probation will be closed,” as one denomination expresses it.

This paganized teaching represents Satan as far more powerful than God.

The Answer Revealed

The New Testament Church of God was founded on a Sunday. It started on the annual Sabbath day called “Pentecost” or “Feast of Firstfruits.” Also called the “Feast of Weeks.”

The New Testament Church continued, year after year, to keep this annual Sabbath, Pentecost, as we shall show.

And God gave this festival to His people in order to reveal, and to keep them continually informed, that the present dispensation is only the first, preliminary “harvest of souls.”

As already explained, God’s purpose in giving His Church His annual holy days was to keep His children constantly in true understanding of God’s great plan.

To accomplish this, God took the yearly material harvest seasons in ancient Israel as the picture of the spiritual harvest of souls.

In the Holy Land there are two annual harvests. First, is the spring grain harvest. Second, comes the fall harvest. God intended His holy days to picture to His Church repeatedly year by year the fact that only those He Himself calls during this age can become His begotten children now! And we are merely the firstfruits of the great spiritual harvest!

The Wave Sheaf

But let us continue the central passage which summarizes all the holy days Leviticus 23.

Here we find all of God’s festivals proclaimed holy convocations, in the one chapter. First is the weekly convocation day, the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Then, beginning verse 4, follows a list of the annual festivals, also commanded assemblies, “which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.”

First of these is the Passover, followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread with the two annual Sabbaths. Beginning verse 9, we find instructions for the wave-sheaf offering. The Israelites were not allowed to harvest any of the early grain crop until this day (verse 14). Then, on the day following the weekly Sabbath, in a solemn ceremony of the Levitical priesthood (the rituals were mere substitutes and therefore not practiced today), the first sheaf of grain was cut. This event always occurred during the days of unleavened bread (see Joshua 5). The sheaf was then brought to the priest. The priest solemnly waved it before the Eternal to be accepted for them.

This pictures the resurrected Christ ascending to heaven to be accepted by His Father as the very first human to be actually born of God the firstfruit of the first harvest of souls! By comparing John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9, you will see that Christ presented Himself before the Father on the morning after His resurrection the previous evening (I Corinthians 15:20, 23; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18). This fulfillment of the wave-sheaf offering actually occurred on Sunday, the morrow after the Sabbath during the days of unleavened bread.

How to Figure Pentecost

Next comes Pentecost. The word “Pentecost” is a Greek word, used in the New Testament, but not in the Old. It signifies “fiftieth (day).” In the Old Testament this feast is called “Feast of Firstfruits,” and “Feast of Weeks.”

Notice the properly translated plain instruction beginning Leviticus 23:15: “And ye shall count unto you from [on, or beginning with] the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days. . . .” And that fiftieth day is Pentecost!

“And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations” (verse 21).

All other holy days or festivals come on definite days of definite months. But this one annual Sabbath must be determined by counting. It is very simple and plain.

It is of very grave importance that we figure the right day. This day, and this only, is made holy by the Eternal Creator. Suppose at the same time the Church of God was founded, the apostles had miscounted, and “when the day of Pentecost was fully come” (Acts 2:1) they, instead of being all with one accord in one place were in discord, some having observed the day preceding, and some waiting until the following day!

The Pharisees, who gained complete control of Jewish religious observances shortly after the middle of the first century AD, figured (incorrectly that is, from the wrong starting point) from the day after the first annual Sabbath.

Before that time, however, the high priests of the family Boethus, who were Sadducees, had been in control of matters concerning the festivals in Jerusalem. The Boethusians always counted from the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, the day we call Saturday, which usually fell within the Days of Unleavened Bread or immediately before the first day of Unleavened Bread. This historical information has been preserved for us in the Mishna, which was set in writing about AD 200:

“The Boethusians say: ‘The cutting of the sheaf does not take place at the end of the day of the feast [the first of the seven days of unleavened bread], but only at the end of the next regular Sabbath’” (Menahoth, 10, 3).

This practice had been handed down among the priests from generation to generation. And their method of counting was done as long as they remained in control of the Temple and its rituals. Samaritans and Karaites (Jewish sect dating from the eighth century AD) have also continued to count from the weekly Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

On a Sunday

Starting then to count from the offering of the wave sheaf, with that Sunday as day number one, we will always come out on another Sunday but NOT always on the same day of the month. It is something which must be “counted” each and every year. Neither in the Hebrew (or biblical) calendar, nor in the Roman calendar which is commonly used today, can the day of Pentecost ever become fixed on a set day of the month.

Quoting again from the Mishna, and speaking about the correct practice which had been followed in Jerusalem before the Pharisees took complete control, “[The Boethusians say:] Pentecost always falls on the day after the Sabbath” (Chagigah, 2, 4).

This makes very clear the meaning of the last part of Leviticus 23:15 and the beginning of verse 16: “. . . seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days.”

Deuteronomy 16:9

A second and perhaps for some a simpler instruction for counting to Pentecost is found in Deuteronomy 16:9-10: “Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks [Pentecost]. . . .”

This means of counting is also referred to in Numbers 28:26: “Also in the day of the firstfruits [Pentecost], when ye bring a new meat offering unto the Lord, after your weeks be out, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work.”

Because seven weeks were counted, the festival of Pentecost was also known as the “feast of weeks” (Deuteronomy 16:10).

Meaning of Pentecost

Passover symbolized Christ’s sacrifice for the remission of our sins, and the days of unleavened bread the putting away of sin. Pentecost pictures the first part of the spiritual harvest the calling out of the Church the called-out ones which, for the New Testament dispensation, began on Sunday Pentecost, June 17, 31 AD. On that day the Holy Spirit came to dwell within flesh, as prophesied by Joel.

On the fiftieth day (Pentecost) in Old Testament times, two “wave loaves” (Leviticus 23:17, 20) were brought out of the habitations of the congregation as the firstfruits unto the Lord. Just so the New Testament Church was gathered out of this world as the firstfruits of His salvation, in fulfillment of the meaning of the wave loaves.

We have all, if we have been converted, become a part of that New Testament Church. We have become part of what was symbolized by those wave loaves.

And just as the wave sheaf was lifted up into the air and waved, symbolizing Christ’s trip to heaven and return, so the wave loaves were lifted up and waved, symbolizing that we too shall for a moment leave this solid earth when we ascend to meet Him in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) before we return with Him to stand on the Mount of Olives as He begins His millennial rule (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:3-4).

Most Not Now Called

God has not cast away His people, Israel. But He blinded them for a temporary period of time so that through their fall, salvation came to the Gentiles, who, through Christ, are individually grafted in, or spiritually adopted into, the family of Israel (Romans 11).

This is the dispensation when God is calling a people for His name to be kings and priests, reigning with Christ in the Kingdom during the thousand years (Revelation 5:10).

“After this” after this dispensation of taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name “I will return,” promises the Eternal. What for? “And will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I [Christ, not men] will set it up.”

Why? “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord.” (Acts 15:14-17 study this again!)

During this present Church age, the descendants of ancient Judah and Israel are blinded. After this, Christ will return, and then the rest of men blinded Israel, and Gentiles alike, will seek after the Lord when Satan is chained and Christ reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords!

Those of the firstfruits of His salvation, made immortal, will then reign with Him as kings and priests in the wonderful work of building a new civilization.

During this time Israel is mostly blinded until the fullness of the Gentiles come in; and so (Romans 11:26) all Israel shall, then, be saved from sin; for the Deliverer, Christ, shall come out of Zion! All Israel shall be brought to repentance and saved from sin how? Because Christ turns ungodliness from mortal Israel by forgiving sin.

Now, in this dispensation, Israel has not believed, and the tabernacle of David is fallen down (Romans 11:31-32), that, through the mercy of the Gentiles and the small “elect” in Israel, picked out in this age, acting as kings and priests with Christ, they, also, then, may obtain mercy! How wonderful is God’s great plan of redemption, when we understand it, as we see it pictured in these annual holy days!

Only First Harvest Now

In James 1:18 and Romans 8:23, for example, the saints of this dispensation are called the firstfruits of God’s salvation. This dispensation, and the picking out of these people to bear His name, began on the day of Pentecost. This feast annually pictures this great event this great “mystery” dispensation in God’s redemptive plan!

Notice, too, that these feasts, Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost, fall at the beginning of the year, and the great events they picture occur at the very beginning of the plan of salvation!

The group of holy days coming at the END of the year all symbolize tremendous events in God’s plan of redemption to occur, yet future, at the end of the dispensation! They all come in the seventh month and their fulfillment will introduce the seventh thousand-years since creation!

The churches of this world today teach it is the mission of the Church to save the world. They teach that all who ever shall be saved are being saved, now, in this present dispensation. They teach that “probation ENDS” at, or prior to, the Second Coming of Christ.

If this be true, what a failure is God’s plan! Only a very, very few have been truly saved in this dispensation. One third of all living on earth today have never even heard the only name whereby we may be saved!

Are they the majority of all living, eternally lost because they never heard lost and condemned without a chance? The common teaching is that God has cast away His people Israel, and they are eternally doomed and lost. Had they been keeping these annual holy days, commanded to be kept forever all kept faithfully by the New Testament Church as recorded in Acts and in church history they would have understood God’s wonderful plan.

We are not to convert everyone in the world in this age, but to declare the Gospel. What Gospel? The good news of the Kingdom the good news of the thousand years of restitution of all things when Christ returns to reign in power and great glory!

Let us understand this. During this time Israel is blinded in part but only until the completion of this Gentile dispensation. During this time, only the minority of Gentiles Chinese, people of India and Russia have even heard the name of Christ.

The good news of the coming Kingdom is to be preached as a witness. Many have been called during this time, but only few actually chosen, and still fewer have remained faithful to the end.

They the people picked out for His name shall be made immortal and shall reign during the thousand years of the Kingdom upon earth. Then Israel’s blindness will be removed. They were blinded until the end of Gentile times. The heavens received Jesus until these times of restitution of all things.

Those now gathered, since that day of Pentecost, June 17, AD 31, are the firstfruits only, of God’s plan of salvation. This dispensation, then, is picking out only the “firstfruits” of those to be saved. And they are being tried and tested to qualify for positions as kings and priests in the Kingdom, to effect, then, the real salvation of the world.

When Christ Returns

Then it is that God shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people Israel (Isaiah 11:11).

Then it is that “. . . the Lord will come with fire, and . . . by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh. . . . And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape [these plagues] of them unto the nations [Gentiles] . . . that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles” (Isaiah 66:15-16, 19).

Then it is that “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem,” and the Gentile nations that have not heard previously “shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles“! (Zechariah 14:16.)

Then it is that many nations “shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain [nation] of the Lord . . . and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares . . . neither shall they learn war any more. . . . In that day, saith the Lord . . . the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever” (Micah 4:2-7). This does not apply to God’s Church now but to the glorious time of the Kingdom, after Christ returns. What a wonderful plan of redemption!

Adam sinned. All have sinned. From Adam to now we behold a chronicle of man without God of human suffering and failure. And thus God, in His great wisdom, has permitted men to prove to themselves what sinners they are how helpless they are, of themselves!

And finally we shall have to learn the lesson that it is only when God Himself undertakes to save men by sending Jesus to rule with a rod of iron that the world can really be saved! And so, those now being saved are a firstfruits of salvation, and will have the very great honor of being Christ’s assistants in that wonderful Kingdom work of redemption!

That is God’s true plan of redemption, as taught from Genesis to Revelation! And how contrary to the popular teaching! But it is the plan, nevertheless, pictured in God’s annual holy days. And had the churches continued to keep these holy days, they would never have lost sight of this plan, and come under the deception of false religionists!

Pentecost Observed by New Testament Church of God

Just as we found the true Church of God continuing to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover, so they continued to observe Pentecost. Read it: I Corinthians 16:8; Acts 20:16.

Had they not been assembled in a holy convocation on the first Pentecost after everything that was abolished had been done away, we never could have read in our Bibles the sublime record of the second chapter of Acts.

Now a “holy convocation” means a holy assembly of the Church, convoked under absolute authority. Look up the word “convocation” in the dictionary. It is an assembly where everyone is commanded, under authority, to be present. The Sabbath is a weekly holy convocation. We are commanded, therefore, to assemble ourselves together. Each of these annual days is an holy convocation. The early Church obeyed. Do we?

While the Day of Pentecost will be May 24th this year, the actual observation begins the evening before at sunset on May 23rd and runs through sunset May 24th.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues” and led by the Holy Spirit? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Pentecostés: ¿Es más que Hechos 2?). Here is a link to a YouTube sermon Pentecost: Feast of Firstfruits.
Pentecost Quiz This is a Pentecost quiz based upon the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.
Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days Which? Herbert W. Armstrong explains what the days the Bible endorses.
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.
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?
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. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Pope Francis’ appeal to Pope Tawadros II should concern Catholics and others

Sunday, May 10th, 2015


Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (Dragan TATIC Österreichische Außenministerium )

COGwriter

Pope Francis sent a message to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria today:

To His Holiness Tawadros II

Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark

As the second anniversary of our fraternal meeting in Rome is at hand, I wish to express to Your Holiness my prayerful best wishes for your well-being, as well as my appreciation for the spiritual bonds which unite the See of Peter and the See of Mark.

Today more than ever we are united by the ecumenism of blood, which further encourages us on the path towards peace and reconciliation. …

It is particularly encouraging that the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches has recently finalized the document The Exercise of Communion in the Life of the Early Church and its Implications for our Search for Communion Today. I am certain that Your Holiness shares my hope that this vital dialogue will carry on and bear abundant fruit. I am especially grateful for the willingness of the Patriarchate of the See of Saint Mark to hold the next meeting of the Commission in Cairo.  …

It is my hope that our cooperation in this area may continue, especially in addressing matters related to mixed marriages.With these sentiments, and recalling what has rightly become known as the day of friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, I exchange with Your Holiness a fraternal embrace in Christ the Lord.

From the Vatican, 10 May 2015

FRANCIS

[Original text: English]  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-message-to-his-holiness-tawadros-ii

Notice that three times above, Pope Francis refers to the ‘see of Mark.’

This is outrageous.  Catholics and any interested in the truth should be outraged by this.

The Orthodox Church of Alexandria claims that Mark was an apostle and that he passed on the succession to a pious one named Anianus (or sometimes spelled Anianos). Essentially, these claims are based upon records from the fourth century writer Eusebius, which, however, history reveals contains several flaws.

Notice the following claimed succession list (much of which was apparently put together based upon Eusebius’ writings) in Alexandria:

1 THE APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST MARK (40-62)
2 ANIANOS (62-82)
3 ABELIOS (83-95)
4 KEDRON (96-106)
5 PRIMUS (106-118)
6 JUSTUS (118-129)
7 EUMENIS (129-141)
8 MARK II (141-152)
9 KELADION (152-166)
10 AGGRIPINOS (166-178)
11 JULIAN (178-189)
12 DIMITRIOS (189-232)
13 HERAKLAS (232-248)
14 DIONYSIOS (248-264)

Source: Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF PATRIARCHES OF ALEXANDRIA. http://www.greekorthodox-alexandria.org/index.php?module=content&cid=001003 viewed 05/10/11.

It needs to be understood Eusebius only states that he heard that Mark was in Alexandria (this differs from many other accounts from Eusebius where he claims to rely on written records).

The Coptic Catholic Church of Alexandria also holds a position similar to the Orthodox Church of Alexandria as it claims,

The Coptic Church was founded by the martyr Mark between A.D. 40 and 60 in Alexandria (Eastern Catholics Key for Christian Unity, Says Pope. Zenit – Dec 15, 2006).

However, Eusebius does not claim that Mark was actually in Alexandria for any specific time period. Actually, since Mark is mentioned many times in the New Testament, the dates and events in the Bible that mention Mark, demonstrate that Mark could not have been the Bishop of Alexandria at that time (as he was in, or traveling to, many other places).

Around 43-44 A.D., Mark is mentioned in first Acts 12:12, when he is praying in Jerusalem. Herod is noted as dying in Acts 12:20-23, which was in 44 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1813). Sometime after Herod’s death, notice:

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark (Acts 12:25).

Notice that Mark was in Jerusalem and then went with Paul and Barnabas. Also notice what certain scholars believe:

In A.D. 46, Mark spent time with Paul and Barnabas in the Antioch Church before his accompanied them as a helper on their first missionary journey (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1636).

Mark apparently went with Paul and Barnabas from around 47-49 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1813).

But Paul was not pleased with Mark and did not want him to accompany him on the next trip:

Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus (Acts 15:37-39).

Notice that Paul considered Mark unfaithful, and notice that Mark then went to Cyprus (not Alexandria)–and this was around 50-53 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1813).

Later Paul apparently liked Mark:

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him) (Colossians 4:10).

This occurred around 60 A.D. and Mark is believed to have been with Paul in Rome then (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, pp. 1637, 2008).

Later Paul declared that Mark was useful:

Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).

And this occurred around 67 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 2052).

It should be noted that the Bible never mentions that Mark was ever in Alexandria, nor ever gives any indication that he somehow was a “bishop” over any area.

Instead, the biblical account contradicts the position of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria that Mark was its bishop from 42-62 A.D. as Mark was in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Cyprus and other areas during this time.

Therefore, either someone later made up the idea that Mark of the Bible came to Alexandria and led that church as an apostle or there was a false apostle who named himself Mark who was in Alexandria. While the Bible never calls or hints that Mark was an apostle and that Mark could not have led the church in Alexandria during the time Eusebius mentioned, it clearly does warn against “false apostles.” Specifically Paul wrote:

But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:12-13).

Interestingly, Paul wrote the above around, 56 A.D., which is during the time that there is claimed to have been an apostle named Mark in Alexandria.

Furthermore, even though Eusebius mentions “Mark,” Eusebius noted that there was a problem with those who professed Christ early in Alexandria:

1. And they say that this Mark was the first that was sent to Egypt, and that he proclaimed the Gospel which he had written, and first established churches in Alexandria.

2. And the multitude of believers, both men and women, that were collected there at the very outset, and lived lives of the most philosophical and excessive asceticism, was so great, that Philo thought it worth while to describe their pursuits, their meetings, their entertainments, and their whole manner of life.” (Eusebius. Church History, Book II, Chapter 16. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

When Nero was in the eighth year of his reign, Annianus succeeded Mark the evangelist in the administration of the parish of Alexandria (ibid, Chapter 24).

It should be noted that Eusebius’ source or conclusion regarding Anianus, that the Orthodox accept, must be in error. For example, the eighth year of Nero’s reign would be 61-62 A.D., and the Orthodox do claim that Anianus was a bishop there from 62 A.D.

Of course, pretty much nothing is known about Anianus or any of his “successors”–but it does not seem possible that he could have become a bishop after the time of the death of Mark (who may never have actually ever been in Alexandria), hence Eusebius’s writings about Alexandria have been discounted by many scholars.

The late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou noted the following related to Clement of Alexandria and those there:

It remains to decide to what type of community Clement’s Elders belonged. It seems to have been very different from that of the Asiatic Elders. There is no trace of millenarianism among them… It must have been founded, in part at least, by Essene Christians who came from Palestine after A.D. 70. This would explain their theology… (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 52).

The Essenes were NOT true Christians. Many scholars have essentially concluded that the Essenes were the ones that Philo called Therapeutæ.

Whether or not that is strictly the case, it does need to be understood that, in the first century, Philo reported that there were problems with those who were in Alexandria. Here is some of what Eusebius said Philo taught about the ascetic followers (who he seems to improperly allege followed Mark) in Alexandria (any bolding mine):

3. In the work to which he gave the title, On a Contemplative Life or on Suppliants, after affirming in the first place that he will add to those things which he is about to relate nothing contrary to truth or of his own invention, he says that these men were called Therapeutæ and the women that were with them Therapeutrides. He then adds the reasons for such a name, explaining it from the fact that they applied remedies and healed the souls of those who came to them, by relieving them like physicians, of evil passions, or from the fact that they served and worshiped the Deity in purity and sincerity.

4. Whether Philo himself gave them this name, employing an epithet well suited to their mode of life, or whether the first of them really called themselves so in the beginning, since the name of Christians was not yet everywhere known, we need not discuss here…

7. Philo bears witness to facts very much like those here described and then adds the following account: “Everywhere in the world is this race found. For it was fitting that both Greek and Barbarian should share in what is perfectly good. But the race particularly abounds in Egypt, in each of its so-called nomes, and especially about Alexandria

9. And then a little further on, after describing the kind of houses which they had, he speaks as follows concerning their churches, which were scattered about here and there: “In each house there is a sacred apartment which is called a sanctuary and monastery, where, quite alone, they perform the mysteries of the religious life. They bring nothing into it, neither drink nor food, nor any of the other things which contribute to the necessities of the body, but only the laws, and the inspired oracles of the prophets, and hymns and such other things as augment and make perfect their knowledge and piety.”

10. And after some other matters he says:

“The whole interval, from morning to evening, is for them a time of exercise. For they read the holy Scriptures, and explain the philosophy of their fathers in an allegorical manner, regarding the written words as symbols of hidden truth which is communicated in obscure figures.

11. They have also writings of ancient men, who were the founders of their sect, and who left many monuments of the allegorical method. These they use as models, and imitate their principles”…

15…Philo’s words are as follows:

16. “Having laid down temperance as a sort of foundation in the soul, they build upon it the other virtues. None of them may take food or drink before sunset, since they regard philosophizing as a work worthy of the light, but attention to the wants of the body as proper only in the darkness, and therefore assign the day to the former, but to the latter a small portion of the night.

17. But some, in whom a great desire for knowledge dwells, forget to take food for three days; and some are so delighted and feast so luxuriously upon wisdom, which furnishes doctrines richly and without stint, that they abstain even twice as long as this, and are accustomed, after six days, scarcely to take necessary food.” These statements of Philo we regard as referring clearly and indisputably to those of our communion.

19. For they say that there were women also with those of whom we are speaking, and that the most of them were aged virgins who had preserved their chastity…by their own choice, through zeal and a desire for wisdom

20. Then after a little he adds still more emphatically: “They expound the Sacred Scriptures figuratively by means of allegories. For the whole law seems to these men to resemble a living organism, of which the spoken words constitute the body, while the hidden sense stored up within the words constitutes the soul. This hidden meaning has first been particularly studied by this sect, which sees, revealed as in a mirror of names, the surpassing beauties of the thoughts”…

23. In addition to this Philo describes the order of dignities which exists among those who carry on the services of the church, mentioning the diaconate, and the office of bishop, which takes the precedence over all the others (Eusebius. Church History, Book II, Chapter XVII. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

So Eusebius claims that Philo (c. late 1st century) reported that those in Alexandria were ascetic, had mysteries, seem to have been gnostics (ones who claimed to have special knowledge/wisdom was essential for salvation), had some promotion of celibacy, allegorized scripture, and had a bishop–and Eusebius seems to claim that they are part of the Catholic Church (see vs. 17 above)–even though the Roman Church did not have celibacy rules at that time (please see the article Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters?). This seems to have been where a major departure from the true faith occurred.

Even Irenaeus condemned the practice of allegorizing:

11…But if any one, “doting about questions,” do imagine that what the apostles have declared about God should be allegorized (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book III, Chapter 12, Verse 11. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

When the Alexandrians first had a bishop who had successors is not clear–and if Anianus was such a bishop, it appears that he led a group that did not teach the Bible the same way that the apostles did. Since the Orthodox Church claims an unbroken link of bishops here, they are apparently including individuals who overly allegorized scriptures and taught other doctrines contrary to those of the apostles.

It perhaps should be noted that there is a document, claimed (but often doubted) to be from the Roman Emperor Hadrian in roughly 134 A.D. that states:

8:1 From Hadrian Augustus to Servianus the consul, greeting. The land of Egypt, the praises of which you have been recounting to me, my dear Servianus, I have found to be wholly light-minded, unstable, and blown about by every breath of rumour. 2 There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis. 3 There is no chief of the Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Christian presbyter, who is not an astrologer, a soothsayer, or an anointer. 4 Even the Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ. 5 They are a folk most seditious, most deceitful, most given to injury; but their city is prosperous, rich, and fruitful, and in it no one is idle. (Vopiscus, Vita Saturnini, 8 as published in Loeb Classical Library, 1932.)

Whether or not that letter is authentic (Walter Bauer claimed that some, like Harnack accepted it, while others did not; see Bauer W. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity, 2nd ed. Edited by R. Krafy and G. Krodel. Sigler Press, Mifflintown, PA, 1996, pp. 46-47), the reality is that the area of Alexandria was not particularly known for having truly faithful Christians.

Alexandria was the original home of the heretic Valentinus (who later went to Rome), and it seems like some of the leaders in Alexandria adopted some of his traits. The historian HOJ Brown noted:

Alexandria was the home of the celebrated gnostic Valentinus. Valentinus adopted Philo’s method of allegorical interpretation…For a time, Valentinus and his followers existed with the orthodox Christians of Alexandria. (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 86).

Valentinus, even though condemned by Polycarp of Smyrna, when Polycarp visited Rome, ca. 155, was also tolerated by, and existed in, the Roman Church until at the 170s A.D. when he was finally put out after he had greatly influenced the church there.

One man who was affiliated with Valentinus was Marcus (also can be spelled Markos in English). Notice what Irenaeus wrote:

I showed thee, my very dear friend, that the whole system devised, in many and opposite ways, by those who are of the school of Valentinus, was false and baseless. I also set forth the tenets of their predecessors, proving that they not only differed among themselves, but had long previously swerved from the truth itself. I further explained, with all diligence, the doctrine as well as practice of Marcus the magician, since he, too, belongs to these persons (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book II, Preface, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Eusebius claimed:

In Alexandria Marcus was appointed pastor, after Eumenes had filled the office thirteen years in all (Eusebius. Church History, Book IV, Chapter 11, Verse 6. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

One researcher noted:

Marcus, the seventh bishop listed by Eusebius, could just as well have been the famed disciple of the second-century Valentinus (Coulter Fred. The New Testament In Its Original Order, Appendix U. York Publishing, Hollister, CA, 2004, p. 859).

And that is possible. While the Eastern Orthodox venerate the memory of a Marcus they claim was bishop of Alexandria from A.D. 144-154, Roman Catholics consider that there was a leading Gnostic heretic named Marcus in the second century:

Marcus The name of three leading Gnostics…The founder of the Marcosians and elder contemporary of St. Irenæus, who, c. A.D. 175, in his refutation addresses him as one apparently still living (Adv. Haer., I, xi, 3, where the “clarus magister” is Marcus, not Epiphanes; and I, xiii, 21). Irenaeus, from whom St. Epiphanius (Haer., xxxiv) and St. Hoppolytus (Haer., VI, xxxix-lv) quote, makes Marcus, a disciple of Valentius (q.v.), with whom Marcus’s aeonology mainly agrees…Clement of Alexandria, himself infected with Gnosticism, actually uses Marcus number system though without acknowledgement (Strom, VI, xvi) (Arendzen JP. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. Marcus. 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).

The fact that Clement of Alexandria (a contemporary of Marcus) apparently used Marcus’ numbering system, suggests that it is possible, but does not prove, that this could be the same Marcus (for more information on him, please see Marcus and the Marcosians: Developers of the Eucharist?).

Irenaeus even condemned the Gnostic Marcus who had been acquainted with Valentinus for coming up with some type of a “eucharistic -like” mystery. Notice:

1. In the first book, which immediately precedes this, exposing “knowledge falsely so called,” I showed thee, my very dear friend, that the whole system devised, in many and opposite ways, by those who are of the school of Valentinus, was false and baseless. I also set forth the tenets of their predecessors, proving that they not only differed among themselves, but had long previously swerved from the truth itself. I further explained, with all diligence, the doctrine as well as practice of Marcus the magician, since he, too, belongs to these persons (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book II, Preface, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

1. But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master…

2. Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book I, Chapter 13. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

If these two Marcus’s are the same person, it is clear that one in the list of Alexandria’s Orthodox successors was condemned by Irenaeus as a heretic (for more information on him, please see Marcus and the Marcosians: Developers of the Eucharist?).

And even if they are not, the practice of consecration with mysterious invocations was condemned in the second century–even though this is a practice somewhat adopted by the Roman and Orthodox Churches. And very similar to practices associated with Mithraism, as Tertullian noted:

By the devil, of course, to whom pertain those wiles which pervert the truth, and who, by the mystic rites of his idols, vies even with the essential portions of the sacraments of God…Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers; celebrates also the oblation of bread, and introduces an image of a resurrection, and before a sword wreathes a crown (The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 40. Translated by the Rev. Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.).

In spite of claims from the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, little is known about those it claims as early leaders, but possibly they were influenced by followers of Mithra and Egyptian gods. How Alexandria developed claiming Christ is not clear, but it did not develop as it did directly from teachings from Mark the gospel writer.

Notice also the following:

Eusebius who “found nothing in his sources about the history of Christianity in Alexandria” had in any event searched very diligently for them…Eusebius who calls Annianus, the immediate successor of Mark…does not raise the tradition above the zero point…We first catch sight of something like “ecclesiastical” Christianity in Demetrius, the Bishop of Alexandria from 189-231. (Bauer, pp. 45, 53)

Harnack is perhaps right in saying that the worst gap of our knowledge of early Church History is our almost total ignorance of the history of Christianity in Alexandria and Egypt till A.D. 180. (William J, Wand C. A history of the early church to A.D. 500, 4th edition. Routledge, 1990, p. 70)

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

Demetrius is the first Alexandrian bishop of whom anything is known…Demetrius encouraged Origen when blamed for his too literal execution of an allegorical counsel of our Lord, and is said to have shown him great favour…In 230 Demetrius gave Origen a recommendation to take with him on his journey to Athens (Chapman J. Transcribed by Gary Mros. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Demetrius is in the list of successors for the Orthodox Church of Alexandria from 188-231. During that time, Demetrius encouraged the heretics Clement of Alexander and later Origen (before eventually renouncing Origen) with their Alexandrian Catechetical School. Thus, no one in the genuine Church of God would consider that those who claim to be his successor are truly successors of the apostles.

Even many Protestant leaders know that the old Alexandrian Catechetical School clearly had problems as the noted Protestant theologian John Walvoord has pointed out:

In the last ten years of the second century and in the third century the heretical school of theology at Alexandria, Egypt advanced the erroneous principle that the Bible should be interpreted in a nonliteral or allegorical sense.  In applying this to the Scriptures, they subverted all the major doctrines of faith…the Alexandrian school of theology is labeled by all theologians as heretical…(Walvoord, John F.  The Prophecy Handbook.  Victor Books, Wheaton (IL), 1990, pp. 9,15).

Clement mixed gnosticism with his form of Christianity:

Unlike Irenaeus who detested it, Clement refers to secret tradition, and his affinities to gnosticism seems to go beyond mere borrowing of gnostic terms. (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 87).

The Catholic Encyclopedia reported:

Clement was an early Greek theologian and head of the catechetical school of Alexandria...Alexandria was, in addition, one of the chief seats of that peculiar mixed pagan and Christian speculation known as Gnosticism…Conservative scholars are inclined to believe that Photius has thrown the mistakes of Clement, whatever they may have been, into undue relief. Clement’s style is difficult, his works are full of borrowed excerpts, and his teaching is with difficulty reduced to a coherent body of doctrine…

In the “Miscellanies” Clement disclaims order and plan…God’s truth is to be found in revelation, another portion of it in philosophy. It is the duty of the Christian to neglect neither. Religious science, drawn from his twofold source, is even an element of perfection, the instructed Christian — “the true Gnostic” is the perfect Christian. He who has risen to this height is far from the disturbance of passion; he is united to God, and in a mysterious sense is one with Him. Such is the line of thought indicated in the work, which is full of digressions…

Some scholars see in the chief writings of Clement, the “Exhortation”, “The Tutor”, the “Miscellanies”, a great trilogy representing a graduated initiation into the Christian life — belief, discipline, knowledge — three states corresponding to the three degrees of the neo-Platonic mysteries — purification, initiation, and vision…

Photius in the “Bibliotheca” censures a list of errors drawn from his writings…when the Roman Martyrology was revised by Pope Clement VIII his name was dropped from the calendar on the advice of Cardinal Baronius. Benedict XIV maintained this decision of his predecessor on the grounds that Clement’s life was little known that he had never obtained public cultus in the Church, and that some of his doctrines were, if not erroneous, at least suspect (Havey, Francis. “Clement of Alexandria.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 17 Nov. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04045a.htm>).

In other words, many scholars understand that Clement of Alexandria, who is often listed as a major leader in Alexandria held a lot of gnostic and other heretical views.

Origen was one of the first major scholars to oppose the literal understanding of scripture (an article of related interest may be What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?)–which he may have gotten from the gnostic Valentinus.

It should be noted that many historians do not believe that there was an actual succession of bishops in Alexandria prior (or much prior) to Demetrius (see Bauer W. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity, 2nd ed. Edited by R. Krafy and G. Krodel. Sigler Press, Mifflintown, PA, 1996, pp. 44-45 and Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah, NJ, 2001, p. 15).

The idea that there also was NOT a succession of apostolic teachings from the apostles through any early bishops of Alexandria appears to be confirmed by the following account of Clement of Alexandria who wrote:

Now this work of mine in writing is not artfully constructed for display; but my memoranda are stored up against old age, as a remedy against forgetfulness, truly an image and outline of those vigorous and animated discourses which I was privileged to hear, and of blessed and truly remarkable men.

Of these the one, in Greece, an Ionic; the other in Magna Graecia: the first of these from Coele-Syria, the second from Egypt, and others in the East. The one was born in the land of Assyria, and the other a Hebrew in Palestine.

When I came upon the last (he was the first in power), having tracked him out concealed in Egypt, I found rest. He, the true, the Sicilian bee, gathering the spoil of the flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow, engendered in the souls of his hearers a deathless element of knowledge.

Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds (Clement of Alexandria. The Stromata (Book I, Chapter I. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The above account shows that Clement claims that he basically has apostolic knowledge based on him coming upon a variety of individuals who claimed to know the apostles. Notice that Clement never even hints that this information was preserved by a line of early bishops in Alexandria.

Why?

Well, amongst other reasons, because there is no proof that there ever was no real apostle to bishop to bishop transfers in Alexandria (though there appears to have been proof of some heretical bishops). And even the Bible disagrees with the position that Mark could have been there much from 42-62 A.D.

It gets even worse. “Patriarch DIONYSIOS” (also spelled Dionysius) specifically rejected the Book of Revelation as he considered that it was likely a work of fiction. Eusebius recorded the following about Dionysius:

1. Afterward he speaks in this manner of the Apocalypse of John.

Some before us have set aside and rejected the book altogether, criticising it chapter by chapter, and pronouncing it without sense or argument, and maintaining that the title is fraudulent.

2. For they say that it is not the work of John, nor is it a revelation, because it is covered thickly and densely by a veil of obscurity. And they affirm that none of the apostles, and none of the saints, nor any one in the Church is its author, but that Cerinthus, who founded the sect which was called after him the Cerinthian, desiring reputable authority for his fiction, prefixed the name.

6. After this he examines the entire Book of Revelation, and having proved that it is impossible to understand it according to the literal sense, proceeds…

26. I do not deny that the other writer saw a revelation and received knowledge and prophecy. I perceive, however, that his dialect and language are not accurate Greek, but that he uses barbarous idioms, and, in some places, solecisms. (Eusebius, The History of the Church, Book VII, Chapter 25, verses 1,2,6,26, p p. 160,162)

How can a person who so discounted a book of the Bible be a true successor of the Apostles? Obviously, he cannot be. There never was apostolic succession in Alexandria.

Later, the Church that Demetrius led split in the year 451 into the Coptic Church and the Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

We in the genuine Church of God do not consider that either of the two leaders who now claim to lead the Alexandrian church could be truly faithful to the original teachings from the apostles. The gnostic practice of allegorizing scripture was encouraged in Alexandria, as were many parts of Gnosticism in general.

It should be outrageous to the Catholics of Rome that their pontiff considers that Alexandria has apostolic succession from the gospel writer Mark as this is historically false.

The Bible also warns against the type of ecumenical unity that Pope Francis and Orthodox/Protestant/Coptic leaders are working towards (e.g. Revelation 17).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view?  Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches?  Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
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?
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 of related interest could be Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
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.
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.
Do You Know That Babylon is Forming? How is the final Babylon forming? Are Protestants such as Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland are endorsing something dangerous? Could Pope Francis be the ‘False Prophet’ that the Bible warns against? Is an antipope expected to endorse a one-world religion? Here is a link to a related written article In Vatican City: New Babylon more openly forming!
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.
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]
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.
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.
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future?
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?
COGwriter Position on Other Churches and Religions What is the fate of those who do not know Christ? What about those who profess Christ outside the Church of God?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Cartwright’s Journal Out: History related to the apostasy, 18 truths, death of Graemme Marshall, and 2015 Feast of Tabernacles’ sites

Friday, May 8th, 2015

COGwriter

The latest issue (says #172, print date April 30, 2015) of The Journal was sent out electronically and received today.

The main item covered included a lot on the historical views of the apostasy/falling away in the old WCG and the 18 truths.  The Journal also mentioned the death of Graemme Marshall and had a listing of 2015 Feast of Tabernacles’ sites.

Here is some of the information on the ’18 truths’ in the major article of the current edition of The Journal:

Church history: Did the WCG leaders have doctrine agenda?

By Mac Overton, John Robinson and Linda Moll Smith

In the months immediately following the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, the pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, in January 1986, his successor, Joseph Tkach, repeatedly vowed to build on the doctrinal foundation of Mr. Armstrong. Over and over Mr. Tkach expressed his commitment to established church doctrine, both orally and in the pages of church publications.

One of the most striking examples of his pledge was an article in the Aug. 25, 1986, issue of The Worldwide News, a WCG member newspaper. In that issue under the headline “God Restored These 18 Truths: How Thankful Are You for Them?” an introduction to the article over Mr. Tkach’s name read: “As you prepare spiritually for the coming Feast of Tabernacles, please spend time with this important article, reviewing each of the 18 truths and thanking God for restoring them to his Church.”

The concluding paragraph of the WN article asked: “Where would we be without these truths? Without them— without Herbert W. Armstrong’s legacy of these 18 restored truths—there isn’t much left.”  …

In spite of Mr. Tkach’s vigorous endorsement of Mr. Armstrong’s “18 re- stored truths,” within a year of his predecessor’s death a handful of then high-ranking WCG ministers and others close to Mr. Tkach and his administrative staff were beginning to voice concerns about the depth of Mr. Tkach’s commitment to the “18 truths.”

Part of the point of the above article was to point out that Joseph Tkach, Sr. later decided to do away with most of those truths and some agenda affected him.

I, however, would take it a step further related to the ’18 truths.’

The article in The Journal listed what I call the Tkach version of the 18 truths.  Many years ago, I discussed this with the late evangelist Dibar Apartian and he told me that what the Tkach Administration published was NOT Herbert W. Armstrong’s list, but one that certain ones decided to put together.  My wife Joyce and I researched this further and concluded that the Tkach’s had changed the 18, even as far back as the 1986 listing.  Our findings were published in The Journal back in 2005.  Those who want to know see the only list of 18 truths that Herbert W. Armstrong’s once publicly gave himself (it was in a sermon I listened to), can check out the article The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?

Here are comments from the article Church history: Did the WCG leaders have doctrine agenda? related to early apostate/change concerns:

Concerned in 1987

Donald Ward, until 1995 president of Ambassador University, said he was first worried about doctrine as early as 1987.

Dr. Ward, who at the time was a member of the WCG’s doctrinal committee, said Mike Feazell, Mr. Tkach’s administrative assistant, would periodically make “enigmatic comments that led you to believe his theological underpinnings dramatically differed from those of Herbert Armstrong.”

Leon Walker, a member of the WCG’s advisory council of elders at the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death, also said he had reservations early on. “I remember one time in the late ’80s—I don’t recall the precise time— Mike [Feazell, Mr. Tkach’s assistant and considered by insiders to be one of the chief architects of the WCG’s doctrinal changes] said, ‘God doesn’t have to have a thumb,’ ” Mr. Walker said. “I was puzzled at the comment, not sure at the time what he was referring to. But, as the nature-of-God discussions unfolded, I realized what he was driving at.”

Both Mr. Walker and Dr. Ward said that at first there were just hints dropped here and there by: Mr. Feazell; Joe Tkach Jr., director of the U.S. ministry and later director of the entire min- istry; and Greg Albrecht, editor of The Plain Truth, the old WCG’s flagship magazine.

In the aftermath of the departure of thousands of members from the WCG in 1995 (the WCG would change its name to Grace Communion International in 2009), more and more former insiders were talking about what appeared to be an agenda for doctrinal change that dated back at least to the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death. …

Clearly an agenda

Although exactly who was involved in orchestrating the mid-1990s massive doctrinal shifts in the WCG remains uncertain, it became clear there was an agenda for change. A Nebraska-based researcher who is a former member of the Worldwide Church of God said he did research into possible WCG doctrinal changes in 1987. …

One of those he revealed the information to was John Merritt, a church member and medical doctor from Southern California and a regent of Ambassador University in Big Sandy in the ’90s. Dr. Walburn and Dr. Merritt first met at the Feast of Tabernacles in 1991. “I first met Dr. Walburn on the Last Great Day of the 1991 Feast of Tabernacles in Norfolk, Va.,” Dr. Merritt told In Transition.  …

The Trinity formula Concerning radical doctrinal changes, Dr. Merritt said Dr. Walburn “first mentioned that there was going to be a change in the born-again doctrine. We’d heard that already, but then he mentioned there would be a change in the nature-of-God understanding.

“He also said that the church would adopt the Trinity formula.

“We laughed at that. My wife asked him who he was, and he said, ‘Just consider me your angel.’

“My wife said, ‘That would not have been my first guess.’

“Then he told about the plans for going to voluntary Sabbath and voluntary holy-day observance and voluntary tithing, and then he mentioned introduction of Christmas and Easter and eventually moving to a Sunday worship.

“Later, when we would see these things about to happen and someone would say, ‘How do you know?’ we would jokingly say our angel had told us. But he literally did outline for us ahead of time what was going to hap- pen, and it was helpful for us because then we weren’t surprised after the first round or two.”

I will add that certain doctrinal changes began earlier than 1987 (see also Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).  The old WCG finally dropped the historical and biblical view of the Godhead (see Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning) and adopted the trinity like most of the world’s churches did (see also Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?).

The Church history: Did the WCG leaders have doctrine agenda? article also had information provided by former WCG minister Steve Sheppard.  He documented that Michael Feazell had gone over an agenda to stop teaching that the Feast of Tabernacles was part of God’s plan of salvation (for a differing view see The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians?), that Anglo-Israelism would no longer be taught (yet it is true, see Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel), that the Gospel of the Kingdom should not be preached (in violation of Matthew 24:14; see also The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church) and that the COG should not trace itself to the first century (but the CCOG can, see Continuing History of the Church of God).

Furthermore, the Church history: Did the WCG leaders have doctrine agenda? article had this about Michael Feazell:

Mr. Feazell said that in the New Testament all Christians have to do is “just believe.” He said that in the example in the book of Acts there was no mention of law-keeping or Sabbath-keeping when the 3,000 were baptized at one time.

It was because of the above, that I started to write articles and post them online related to the Ten Commandments.  Notice the updated versions below:

Were the Ten Commandments in Effect Before Mount Sinai? Some have said not. This article provides biblical quotes to answer this important question.
Job and the Ten Commandments Was Job written prior to Mount Sinai? Did Job know about the ten commandments? This article provides biblical answers to those questions.
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments? Many say Paul taught against the ten commandments. Is this true? This article quotes Paul with his words in green.
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
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings. A related sermon is titled: Christians and the Ten Commandments.
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.

I would also add that Peter in Acts 2:39 told people to REPENT and believe, not just believe.  He did not need to mention the Sabbath then as he was speaking to Jews according to the account in Acts 2.

Notice also something else from the article Church history: Did the WCG leaders have doctrine agenda? related to early apostate/change concerns:

Mr. Walker, a 1960 graduate of Ambassador College, has been an elder since 1963 and was ordained a WCG evangelist in 1981. He said that shortly before Mr. Armstrong’s death the WCG pastor general was undecided about who to name as his successor. “One day he’d be leaning toward Mr. [Leroy] Neff [who died in 2014]. Another day he might be leaning toward someone else,” Mr. Walker said.

“Mr. Armstrong later told me that he was choosing Mr. Tkach based on his strength, firmness and dogged determination in the receivership crisis of 1979. He said to me, and this is a direct quote, ‘One thing I know about Mr. Tkach: He will not change doctrine.’ ”

Some today act like the late Herbert W. Armstrong did not sometimes make serious prophetic errors.  Well, it should be clear he did related to Joseph Tkach.  Joseph Tkach did denounce Church of God doctrine and led the WCG to have the type of ‘falling away’ that Herbert W. Armstrong had long been concerned about (see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings).  Lest any cast aspersions on Leon Walker’s testimony here, I have encountered other evidence that also 100% agrees with what I quoted from Leon Walker above.

Finally from the Church history: Did the WCG leaders have doctrine agenda? article about Michael Feazell that I want to quote is the following:

Mr. Feazell said “we cannot understand Revelation,” including Revelation 2 and 3.

“It is filled with wild metaphor.”

Mr. Sheppherd then asked what is the purpose of the book of Revelation. Mr. Feazell said it was written to tell all Christianity to hang on, “that it will all work out.”

Concerning the traditional WCG teaching that Jesus will return to earth and establish His government, Mr. Feazell said, “The advent won’t occur like we thought.”

The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther also said he could not understand the Book of Revelation (see Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? ).  But consider that the term ‘revelation’ means revealing–it was intended to be understood.  As far as the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 go, consider the following articles:

Old Testament Church Eras Are there seven church eras in the Old Testament? Do they parallel those in Revelation 2 &3?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3
from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots.  They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent.

As far as the Book of Revelation goes, those who call themselves preterists improperly do not believe the Book is prophetic for our time (see The Dangerous Rise of Preterists).

As far as the return of Jesus (called ‘advent’ by Mike Feazell), the following may be of some assistance:

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? A related sermon is titled The Millennium.
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2022 or 20xx? There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up? Here is a link to the article in Spanish: ¿Tiene Dios un plan de 6,000 años?

Anyway, there were a lot of apostate changes that the Tkach WCG put in place, yet few today realize that the first was possibly related to downplaying the teaching about ‘church eras’ (see The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).

The Journal also had the following death announcement:

Graemme Marshall died April 26, 2015 area. ¶ Graemme and Lynn Marshall served in the ministry for almost 50 years. He was one of the pioneers of the work of the Church of God in New Zealand, serving as regional director there for eight years, later serving in Australia and most recently in Toronto. ¶ Graemme suffered from health challenges on and off, and over the past 10 months his condition deteriorated considerably. He also lost a lot of weight during that time. ¶ He loved the church and the work of the ministry and helped his wife in the UCG Canadian office right up to the end of his life. ¶ He leaves his wife, Lynn, and two grown children. ¶ Before his death he requested cremation and asked that there be no funeral or memorial service. Cards may be sent to Lynn Marshall, P.O. Box 33034, Cambridge, ON, Canada N1R 8R0.

Although I have been to both Australia and New Zealand, as well as Canada, I do not recall if I ever met Graemme Marshall.

Anyway, The Journal  had a listing of Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015.  Here is what I emailed its editor concerning those for the Continuing Church of God:

Denver, Colorado, USA. Continuing Church of God, contact Dr. Bob Thiel, email cogwriter@aol.com

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Continuing Church of God, contact Herb Haddon email hwhaddon@gmail.com

Amsterdam/Utrrecht, Netherlands. Continuing Church of God, contact Dr. Bob Thiel, email cogwriter@aol.com

Taupo, New Zealand. Continuing Church of God, contact John Hickey, email john.h@vodafone.net.nz

Silay City, Philippines. Continuing Church of God, contact Oscar Mediavilla, email hansmeidavilla@rocketmail.com

Gambella, Ethiopia contact Koang Deng, email koangdeng5@gmail.com

Ndhiwa, Kenya. Continuing Church of God, contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

Bomet, Kenya. Continuing Church of God, contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

Nairobi, Kenya. Continuing Church of God, contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

Transmara, Kenya. Continuing Church of God, contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

Migori, Kenya. Continuing Church of God, contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

Tanzania. Continuing Church of God, contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

This year Feast of Tabernacles services will begin the evening of September 27th and continue until the Last Great Day which is October 5, 2015. More information for the Continuing Church of God sites is in the article Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015.  We also may have a site for Nigeria, which is not listed above.

The Journal also had the usual letters to the editor and other advertisements, various comments, and opinion articles.

The Journal itself is available by paid subscription (though Dixon Cartwright says some subscriptions are free to those who cannot afford it).

Pope Pius V and some of his teachings

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015


Pope Pius V

COGwriter

April 30th is the Catholic “Feast day” for one who has been designated as “St. Pope Pius V.”

Here is some of what Catholic.org says about him:

Pope from 1566-1572 and one of the foremost leaders of the Catholic Reformation…As pope, Pius saw his main objective as the continuation of the massive program of reform for the Church, in particular the full implementation of the decrees of the Council of Trent. He published the Roman Catechism, the revised Roman Breviary, and the Roman Missal…

In 1571, Pius created the Congregation of the Index to give strength to the Church’s resistance to Protestant and heretical writings, and he used the Inquisition to prevent any Protestant ideas from gaining a foot hold in Italy…His reign was blemished only by the continuing oppression of the Inquisition; the often brutal treatment of the Jews of Rome; and the ill advised decision to excommunicate Queen Elizabeth I http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5515

The Inquisition and brutal treatment of Jews are more than blemishes, they help demonstrate that Pius V was not a successor of Peter or the other apostles.

Here is something about him and Protestantism:

Priest P. Kramer (21st century): Pope St. Pius V teaches in his Catechism, the Roman Catechism — also known as the Catechism of the Council of Trent — that all of the Protestant religions are false religions, they’re inspired by the devil; and therefore their fruits are evil…The Protestant religions, as such, are inspired by the devil, as Pope St. Pius V teaches in his catechism. (Kramer P. The Imminent Chastisement for Not Fulfilling Our Lady’s Request. An edited transcript of a speech given at the Ambassadors of Jesus and Mary Seminar in Glendale, California, September 24, 2004. THE FATIMA CRUSADER Issue 80, Summer 2005, pp. 32-45 http://www.fatimacrusader.com/cr80/cr80pg32.asp viewed 4/15/08)

While the Continuing Church of God is not Protestant, likely Pius V included our spiritual ancestors in the above as the general Catholic position is that those who profess Christ that are not Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic are some type of Protestant. The Church of God preceded the confederation that became the Church of Rome.

Notice that Pope Pius V’s late 16th century Catechism says only the Catholic church is faithful and has salvation, with others (like Protestants) part of the “false Church”:

The third mark of the Church is that she is Catholic…To this Church, “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets”, belong all the faithful who have existed from Adam to the present day, or who shall exist…She is, also, called universal, because all who desire eternal salvation must cling to and embrace her, like those who entered the ark, to escape perishing in the flood…This, therefore, is to be taught as a most reliable criterion, by which to distinguish the true from a false Church…

The true Church is also to be recognised from her origin, which can be traced back under the law of grace to the Apostles; for her doctrines are neither novel nor of recent origin, but were delivered, of old, by the Apostles, and disseminated throughout the world. Hence, no one can, for a moment, doubt that the impious opinions which heresy invents, opposed, as they are, to the doctrines taught by the Church from the days of the Apostles to the present time, are very different from the faith of the true Church…But as this one Church, because governed by the Holy Ghost, cannot err in faith or morals, it necessarily follows, that all other societies arrogating to themselves the name of Church, because guided by the spirit of darkness, are sunk in the most pernicious errors both doctrinal and moral. (The Catechism of the Council of Trent: published by command of Pope Pius the fifth , pp. 77-78)

Related to that last paragraph above, it needs to be understood that by making those claims, Pope Pius V seems to be saying that the true Church should not have changed the doctrines of the Apostles. And while that is true of the Continuing Church of God, it cannot be said of the Church of Rome.

In the 16th century, the Pope Pius V’s Catechism claimed:

…the Church of God has in her wisdom ordained that the celebration of the Sabbath should be transferred to “the Lord’s day:” as on that day light first shone on the world…(The Catechism of the Council of Trent: published by command of Pope Pius the fifth. Translated by Jeremiah Donovan. F. Lucas, Publisher. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Apr 26, 2006, p. 267)

Of course, the true and faithful “Church of God” did no such thing, it was the Church of Rome that made this change (nor did any of the original Apostles authorize it in scripture or elsewhere).

Catholics, and others, may find the following three translations of some passages in the New Testament book of Hebrews of interest (note this using one Protestant and two Catholic translations):

4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”…9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (NIV).

4 as one text says, referring to the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing…9 There must still be, therefore, a seventh-day rest reserved for God’s people, 10 since to enter the place of rest is to rest after your work, as God did after his. 11 Let us, then, press forward to enter this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of refusal to believe and be lost. (NJB)

4 For he said in a certain place of the seventh day thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works…9 Therefore there is left a sabbatisme for the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his. 11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of incredulity. (Original Douay-Rheims of 1582)

When Pius V wrote of changing the Sabbath, he and those that followed him apparently wanted to reinterpret the above to not mean what they literally state (note: the more “modern” Douay-Rheims that many use no longer uses the term “sabbatisme” so many modern Catholics are unaware of what that verse really says–also most Protestants are unaware as most Protestant translators have chosen to mistranslate the verse).

Protestants, who claim not to follow Rome, may wish to ask themselves why they tend to observe Sunday as this is a day that Rome claims it adopted and changed the Sabbath to.

Those interested in learning more about early Christianity, who is faithful and who is not, and changes that many have adopted may wish to carefully study the following articles:

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.
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. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Why Should American Catholics Should Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster?
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?
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]
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?
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 Continuing Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
How to Observe the Sabbath? How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Christians with the true faith will be persecuted

Saturday, April 25th, 2015


Artist depiction of Catholic saint Dominic presiding over burning two at the stake

COGwriter

Is persecution for Christians over? Well, obviously not. In addition to persecution for those who profess Christ in various Islamic lands, losing religious rights and freedoms in certain Western lands, and the promotion of immoral behavior by nations around the world, persecution will specifically be coming to true Christians.

Jesus foretold persecution.

Many are aware of some of the early persecutions, but few understand what teachings true Christians were persecuted for in the fourth century and beyond–some may seem shocking. At least two major persecutions are prophesied to come. Which doctrines are expected to be causes for the coming persecutions? Are the Greco-Roman churches planning on persecuting Sabbath-keepers, those who do not accept a non-biblical Mary, and those who do not wear crosses?

All the faithful will be subject to persecution and being betrayed by professing believers (Matthew 24:9-13, Mark 13:12-13; Luke 21:16-18; Daniel 11:32-35).

In the past (for details see Persecutions by Church and State), Christians in the Church of God were persecuted because they:

  • Kept Passover on the 14th
  • Refused to eat unclean meat
  • Would work on Sunday
  • Had false accusations railed against them
  • Were binitarian
  • Kept the Sabbath
  • Were not trinitarian
  • Taught that the pope was an Antichrist and precursor of the final Antichrist
  • Rejected papal authority
  • Did not accept idols
  • Had different teachings than the Church of Rome
  • Had writings Rome did not like
  • Rejected Roman sacraments
  • Objected to the dress of the Roman ministry
  • Considered Rome to be the prophesied Babylon
  • Taught that in the time of the final Antichrist that some would fall away
  • Had practices that Rome considered Jewish
  • Refused to baptize infants
  • Did not participate in carnal warfare
  • Taught the Kingdom of God
  • Teaching the millennium
  • Baptized adults

In the future, according to Catholic teachings, they also will be persecuted for:

  • Not accepting non-biblical teachings about Mary
  • Not accepting the Great Monarch (Beast, King of the North)
  • Teaching that the Kingdom of God will come soon
  • Not wearing crosses
  • Teaching after the Great Tribulation begins that Jesus will return within a few years

Christians have been persecuted for holding doctrines that we in the Continuing Church of God hold and are clearly expected to be persecuted in the future for holding Continuing Church of God doctrines.

The Book of Daniel shows a two-part persecution coming (I added the a and b below for emphasis):

25 a He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand b For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

First of all (a), he shall persecute certain of the saints, which is consistent with what Jesus said was coming:

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)

Much of the above will affect the Philadelphian Christians (cf. Revelation 12:13), but they will later be protected (Revelation 3:8-10) in the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time (Revelation 12:14-16; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Part of why they will be persecuted is for proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and probably also for identifying the coming King of the North, who will not wish to be identified that way. This will likely result in internet and other restrictions on getting the truth of God out to the world (cf. Amos 8:11-12).

Second of all (b), the remaining saints will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. This is the portion of the COG, the non-Philadelphians, who are NOT protested in the wilderness as Revelation 12:17 shows this separation:

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)

While many in the Church of God have experienced economic and social persecution in their walk with Christ, future severe persecution, beginning first with the Philadelphia remnant of Christians, is expected.

Persecution is a fact of history. It has happened before and we should be prepared for the fact that it will happen again. And during the time of the final persecutions, the Bible records:

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

Thus, though the Philadelphian Christians will be subject to intense persecution first before this, even the Laodiceans (The Laodicean Church Era) and other Christians will receive some praise if they endure the persecutions that will then come during the time of “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10).

While many seem to not wish to pay attention to this subject, the reality is that persecution has existed throughout history against those with Church of God doctrines. Jesus predicted that as well as more persecution to come. Some may be shocked by certain doctrines that Christians have been persecuted for (and often by those who profess to be Christian).

Those in the true Church of God have always been the side being persecuted and has never been on the side of the persecutors. And this will be true again in the future.

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.
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 Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
This is PETRA! This is a 1962 Good News article by the late Dr. Hoeh.
Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? What does the Bible really teach? Does the Church flee or is it taken up just prior to the great tribulation? Who really is left behind? There is also a YouTube video with information Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
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.

100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and Armenian church history

Friday, April 24th, 2015


Murdered Armenians 1915

COGwriter

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the date traditionally believed to have been the start of the Armenian genocide in 1915.

Germany released a statement:

April 24, 2015

YEREVAN — Armenia marked the centenary Friday of a mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as Germany became the latest country to recognize it as a genocide.

Turkey denies that the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in what is now Turkey in 1915 constitutes genocide, and relations with Armenia are still blighted by the dispute.

Germany’s parliament approved a resolution Friday branding the killings a “genocide,” risking a diplomatic rupture with Ankara in a significant change of stance for Turkey’s biggest trade European Union trade partner.

The European Parliament refers to the killings as genocide, as did Pope Francis this month. The U.S. has refrained from doing so. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as recently as Thursday refuted the description of the killings as genocide.  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/armenian-genocide-100th-anniversary-germany-becomes-latest-use-term-n347641

Here is some information about what happened a century or so ago:

The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն Hayots Tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, “Great Crime”), was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. (Armenian Genocide, Wikipedia, accessed 04/12/15)

The government of Turkey has tended to deny it was genocide, instead saying that most were killed in WWI and civil wars during the time.  The Armenians strongly disagree.

Armenians still face issues.  Last years, a COG member sent me the following:

My mom’s side relatives have lived in Aleppo, Syria all their lives, which has had a large thriving Eastern Orthodox Christian Armenian community for nearly a century. A number of them have left during the recent turmoil if they were able. An article in a recent daily news update on cogwriter referred to Christian persecution there. Well, the rebel groups are the ones bombing churches and persecuting those who refer to themselves as Christians (including Armenians). Two of my relatives were kidnapped by rebel forces (now released by ransom money). My relatives are upset at the so-called Arab Spring. It has destroyed the peace, the economy and their way of life, which they were happy with. The more secular Arab leaders like Assad have treated professing Christians very well for decades (though they may be harsh in other ways). The Armenians had no trouble with their religion, churches, schools, cultural activities, and speaking the language. They were highly regarded in the community. Now the rebels want to overthrow the regime and have a fanatical Moslem government, and, like you say, eventually try to establish a caliphate across the Middle East. They persecute any group calling itself Christian and are causing the disintegration of the Orthodox Christian communities.

The situation in Syria has been horrible. I have been praying for those affected in Syria for some time and again ask others to also do so. The post at COGwriter that he specifically referred to was Obama Administration considered to be a facilitator of ‘Christian’ persecution.

While the Continuing Church of God does not consider that the modern Armenian Orthodox are part of the Church of God, there are certain doctrinal similarities (as well as important doctrinal differences, see Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God).

The records of history demonstrate that early as the first century A.D. there were Church of God Christians in Armenia. The Armenian Orthodox have claimed:

Christianity was preached in Armenia as early as the second half of the first century by the two disciples of Jesus Christ, namely, St. Thaddeus (John 14:22-24) and St. Bartholomew (John 1:43-51). During the first three centuries Christianity in Armenia was a hidden religion under heavy persecution.

The true Church of God has long endured persecution and I do believe that there were true Christians in Armenia for quite some time.

Around the time of Constantine it was known that there were binitarian Paulicians in Armenia who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Tamar Davis reported:

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

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

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

The Paulicians, as part of their heresy held…that all external religious forms, sacraments, rites, especially material pictures and relics, should be abolished. To honour the Cross was especially reprehensible.

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

From the earliest ages they have devoutly hated the error and idolatry of the Greeks. Like the primitive Christians, they have ever exhibited an unconquerable repugnance to the use or abuse of images, which, in the eighth and ninth centuries spread like a leprosy…and supplanted all traces of genuine piety in the visible church…

The Catholic saint and doctor Jerome said that various of the Nazarene Christians were in Armenia in the fourth and fifth centuries (see Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?). Some of the Paulicians and many of the Nazarene Christians were part of the Church of God.

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many of the Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. After being relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils.

The Eastern Orthodox also oppressed the Bogomils. Notice this odd admission from an Orthodox scholar (bolding mine):

The Orthodox, as have all religions, berated other confessions and denominations. But Orthodoxy was always benign – no “jihad”, no bloodshed, no forced conversions and no mass expulsions – perhaps with the exception of the forcible treatment of the Bogomils. It was all about power and money, of course. Bishops and archbishops did not hesitate to co-opt the Ottoman administration against their adversaries…

Notice that the Orthodox claim to have not caused bloodshed, forced conversions, or mass expulsions of any group, except what they did to the Bogomils. It is not completely clear how they treated others, but obviously, they felt mistreating people that were associated with the original Church of God was acceptable. Of course, some of the Orthodox began their persecutions much prior to the Bogomils with the early Paulicians (not just the Samosatans), various (like 4th century) Sabbath-keepers, and the Quartodecimans.

This type of persecution is consistent with what happened to true Christians in the Pergamos and Thyatira eras of the true Church of God.

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

They are accused by their Armenian opponents of setting at naught all the feasts and fasts of the Church, especially Sunday…The Sabbath was perhaps kept… they were probably the remnant of an old Judaeo-Christian Church, which had spread up through Edessa into Siuniq and Albania…We know that the Pauliani continued to keep Passover on the fourteenth of Nisan…Of the modern Christmas and of the Annunciation, and of the other feasts connected with the life of Jesus prior to his thirtieth year, this phase of the church knew nothing. The general impression which the study of it leaves on us is that in it we have before us a form of Church not very remote from the primitive Jewish Christianity of Palestine.

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

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

The Font is denied by them…

the communion of immortality…is denied…

We know that they deny the adored sign, which God, made man, raised and carried on his shoulders.

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote:

The Bogomils…Its doctrine of God is highly dualistic…There is no True Trinity

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

…important idea of Bogomils and Cathars, i.e. that this world is the kingdom of the devil.

Perhaps it should be noted that groups like the faithful in the Church of God also believe that this is Satan’s world (cf. Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4). This will change, however, when Christ returns (Revelation 11:15). This being Satan’s world is part of the reason that the Bible warns us to not love this present world (1 John 2:15-17).

Another reason that their teachings are called dualistic is probably because, as non-trinitarians (see also Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?), they would have most likely been binitarian (see also Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).

Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The heresy of the Bogomili was started in the tenth century…followers called themselves Christians and considered their faith the only true one. In Bosnia they were named Paterines. The Paterines, or Bogomili…forbade intercourse with those of other faiths, disbelieved in war.

The true Church of God remains opposed to Christians participating in carnal warfare (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?).

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

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

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

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

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

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

…they represent our worship of God as worship of idol. As if we, who honour the sign of the cross and the holy pictures, were still engaged in worshiping devils.

Those who opposed idols and icons (see What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?) were often persecuted (see Persecutions by Church and State).

Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia article also admits:

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

Notice that even some Roman Catholic scholars know that it is possible that some of the Paulicians were the survivors of an early and pure Christianity and that they had spiritual descendants that continued into the future (Alexius Comnenus died in A.D. 1118 and essentially dealt with the Paulicians at Philippopolis in the late eleventh century), such as those within the Thyatira era, as well into modern times! This, combined with Gibbon’s account, is supportive of the view that a laying on of hands continued from the beginning, through the late eleventh century and beyond. The Cathari were also known to be pacifists, as were the faithful among the Paulicians. Of course, there were many called by those names that were not faithful. But completely faithful or not, they were often persecuted.

There has long been a history of persecution against those who hold Church of God teachings. And the Armenians, including those that no longer hold Church of God teachings, have also been persecuted. The persecution and atrocious massacre by the Turks about a century ago is still an important issue for Armenians. The persecution of Armenians in Syria and elsewhere in the 21st century is atrocious as well.

Between civil war, chemical weapons, murders, deaths, and war crimes, it is terrible what the people in Syria, Armenian or not have had to endure. They, along with all of us, need to pray “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10, KJV).

Items of possibly 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. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
What Should You Know About Turkey in Prophecy Do you know the Turkish people descended from? Did the Ottoman Empire possibly fulfill a promise in Genesis? Will Turkey support the European King of the North or Arabic King of the South? Will it betray one of them? Will Turkey be involved in the encouraging the destruction of Israel? Is Turkey going to become Catholic? Is Turkey mentioned in Psalm 83, Daniel 11, and elsewhere in the Bible? This video provides answers.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
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?
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.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.
Is the Future King of the South Rising Up? Some no longer believe there needs to be a future King of the South. Might Egypt, Islam, Iran, Arabs, or Ethiopia be involved? Might this King be called the Mahdi or Caliph? What does the Bible say? A YouTube video of related interest may be: The Future King of the South is Rising.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Rise of the King of the South The Bible tells of the formation of a power of nations that are in the Middle East and North Africa that are part of the final “King of the South” (Daniel 11:40-43) The Muslim Brotherhood wishes to have an Islamic empire with basically the same nations. This YouTube video explains what to expect from such a confederation.
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2023 or 20xx? There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2015, 2016, or 2017? 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 2014 o 2015? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon video: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Just What Do You Mean the Kingdom of God? A booklet that was written by Herbert Armstrong answers questions about the Kingdom.
Damascus and Syria in Prophecy Will Bashar Assad hold power as he has it? Does the Bible show that Damascus, the capital of Syria, will be destroyed? What will happen to Syria? Will the Syrians support the final King of the South that the Bible tells will rise up? Which scriptures discuss the rise and fall of an Arabic confederation? Does Islamic prophecy predict the destruction of Syria. This is a YouTube video.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.