Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Catholic and Islamic authors on Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

COGwriter

February 14th is often celebrated as Valentine’s Day. Should you celebrate it?

Christians who may be tempted to compromise need to ask themselves about the origins of Valentine’s Day.

Notice what the Roman Catholics teach,

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

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

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

It is good that the Church of Rome no longer officially honors Valentine or the holiday.

Look at some of what the Muslims say about Valentine’s Day,

Celebrating the Valentine Day is not permissible because: Firstly, it is an innovated holiday that has no basis in the Sharee`ah…Christians were aware of the Pagan roots of Valentine’s Day. The way the Christians adopted St. Valentine’s Day should be a lesson for Muslims. In fact, the failure to fully separate Valentine’s Day from its pagan roots explains why Islamic scholars and a number of Muslims avoid adopting traditions of non-Muslims, even though they could possibly be Islamicized…We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices -…- Islam does not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic relationships before marriage – Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins (Ruling on Celebrating Valentine’s Day. http://www.contactpakistan.com/news/news144.htm, January 31, 2004).

What is the ruling on Valentine’s Day?…Firstly: Valentine’s Day is a jaahili Roman festival, which continued to be celebrated until after the Romans became Christian. This festival became connected with the saint known as Valentine who was sentenced to death on 14 February 270 CE. The kuffaar still celebrate this festival, during which immorality and evil are practised widely…Secondly: It is not permissible for a Muslim to celebrate any of the festivals of the kuffaar, because festivals come under the heading of shar’i issues which are to be based on the sound texts…Partially joining in, at the very least, is disobedience and sin…it is not permissible to celebrate the festivals of the ignorant and the mushrikeen (polytheists). (fatwa No. 73007. What is the ruling on Valentine’s Day? http://islamqa.info/en/ref/73007 viewed 02/04/12)

So, according to Muslims, it is improper to celebrate pagan holidays and the so-called “Christians” clearly adopted a pagan holiday.

In Pakistan and other Islamic-dominated lands, steps to minimize its impact have been taken:

Conservatives in Pakistan tacked up posters urging people to boycott Valentine’s Day on Thursday, saying it’s a western-inspired event that’s spreading vulgarity in their country…

For them, Valentine’s Day is nothing but an occasion to encourage illicit relations between the country’s young unmarried males and females. It’s a sign that Western culture and values are eating away the fabric of Pakistan’s traditional, Islamic society. Valentine’s Day, they say, is not a Pakistani holiday and not part of the culture here…

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, government officials and clerics in Jakarta called for young people to skip Valentine’s Day, saying it was an excuse for couples to have forbidden sex. Santana R. Valentine’s Day under attack in Pakistan. AP, February 14, 2013 http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2013/02/14/valentines-day-under-attack-in-pakistan)

Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or PEMRA, sent a letter to TV and radio stations reminding them that the holiday is “not in conformity to our religious and cultural ethos.” The report warns that “a large segment of society” has complained about “Valentine’s Day celebrations” and blames Valentine’s Day for “depraving, corrupting and injuring morality of Pakistani youth.”…

The letter begins:

It is generally observed that in the past “Valentine’s Day” is celebrated on February 14 by all the satellite TV channels whether an Entertainment or News & Current Affairs channel. PEMRA has been receiving complaints from a large segment of society that Valentine’s Day celebrations are not in conformity to our religious and cultural ethos and has, therefore, condemned its unequivocal propagation through media. Furthermore, such events have been perceived as a source of depraving, corrupting and injuring morality of Pakistani youth as well as violating Code of Conduct developed by PEMRA in pursuance of Rule 15 & PEMRA Rules 2009. (Dewey C. Pakistani regulator warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day (Washington Post, February 14, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/02/14/pakistani-regulator-warns-media-against-promoting-valentines-day/

Notice that because of sexual immortality associated with Valentine’s Day, many of the states in Malaysia have taken proactive steps to try to stop sinning then:

PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hasan Tantawi said the Kedah, Kelantan and Selangor governments have directed all local authorities to work closely with police and Rela in order to carry out operations to check immoral activities during Valentine’s Day…He said the National Fatwa Council forbids Muslims from celebrating Valentine’s Day because of elements of Christianity and sin. (Move on Valentine’s Day ‘sins’ Malaysia Star – Feb 8, 2011. http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/2/9/nation/8024821&sec=nation)

KUALA LUMPUR – More than 300 volunteers between 19 to 25 years-old today joined a programme to make Muslims wary of the importance of not celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director of Family, Social and Community Division, Saimah Mokhtar hopes parents take the ban on Valentine’s Day celebration seriously as it has elements of Christianity and mixed with vices forbidden by Islam.

The programme called “Jerat Hari Valentine” (Valentine’s Day Trap) targets several locations in Kuala Lumpur, said Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha. (Bernama. Now Jakim wants parents to ban Valentine’s Day celebration. Malaysian Chronicle. February 3, 2013. http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=51672:now-jakim-wants-parents-to-ban-valentines-day-celebration&Itemid=2)

Notice that many of the Muslims associate Valentine’s Day with Christianity (obviously the false compromising kind) and sin.

In other words, Valentine’s Day causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5)!

Valentine’s Day causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles–which is something that the Bible warns against doing:

24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. (Romans 2:24)

How does this pagan holiday help get the true gospel out?

It does not.

And that is the point.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is NOT a real Christian holiday and does have its basis in sinful pagan practices.

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

Valentine’s Day is not a biblical holiday.

It is essentially based upon lawlessness and does not edify Christ. 13 years ago, an article in Christianity Today stated:

There are more tales of the “origins” of Valentine’s Day than arrows in Cupid’s quiver. As expected, most have something to do with pagan ritual (pretty much every holiday—from Christmas to Mother’s Day—has something to do with pagan ritual). Four centuries before Christ, Romans had a day called Lupercalia. Without going too much into it, I’ll sum it up as a sexual lottery. Pull names out of a box at random and couple with a young member of the opposite sex. After a year, you get to pick another name (Olsen T. Then Again Maybe Don’t Be My Valentine. Christianity Today. February 12, 1999).

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

None who profess Christ should observe this February “holiday”–it simply is not a Christian holiday. It began as a sexual lottery and still has sexual ramifications, even in the 21st century. Modern Muslims and modern Catholics realize this, shouldn’t you?

For more information, please consider studying the following:

Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine’s Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true? There is also a YouTube titled Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day?
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。.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

The Roman Hyginus may have done what?

Sunday, January 11th, 2015


Vatican City (photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

January 11th is the feast day of the Church of Rome for a leader called Hyginus. Although the claimed early leaders of Rome in the Catholic “succession lists” refer to him as a pope, that title was not used by leaders there until the latter part of the fourth century.

The generally touted Catholic position is that Hyginus was the ninth pope and that all subsequent leaders of the true church passed through him. Is that correct?

Certain Claims

While visiting the Vatican in 2004, I purchased a book in its basilica museum bookstore titled The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997). The book states that it is sponsored by the “Pontifical Administration, which has tutelage over the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Peter”.

It makes many claims about the early “bishops” of Rome including this about Hyginus:

9. HYGINUS, ST. (136-140) Born in Athens, he was considered a philosopher and he behaved like one…During the baptism of children, he ordered the presence of a godfather or a godmother who would guide and direct them in leading a Christian life. He ordered that churches should be dedicated. His pontificate was marked by persecution and his martyrdom (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p. 3).

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about him:

The ancient authorities contain no information as to his having died a martyr (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas.The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

There is also no evidence that he came up with godparents or requiring churches to be dedicated. Actually, these are unlikely to have been done then. . Essentially, the Roman Catholics now teach that the godparent repents and accepts Christ on the behalf of infants that they baptize—godparents are part of the justification they have for infant baptism (please see article on Baptism).

For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

When infants are solemnly baptized, persons assist at the ceremony to make profession of the faith in the child’s name. This practice comes from antiquity and is witnessed to by Tertullian, St. Basil, St. Augustine, and others. Such persons are designated sponsores, offerentes, susceptores, fidejussores, and patrini. The English term is godfather and godmother, or in Anglo-Saxon, gossip (Fanning W.H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. 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).

Note that Hyginus is not listed as coming up with this as many Catholic scholars realize that there simply was no record that he did.

It is of interest to note that:

…the Gnostic Valentine came to Rome in Hyginus’s time, remaining there until Anicetus (Ibid).

According the Catholic historian Eusebius, it was Polycarp of Smyrna who had to deal with that heretic as Hyginus apparently did not. This helps show that it was the leadership in Asia Minor, which at that time was clearly “Church of God,” that dealt with various heresies and heretics that the Church of Rome tolerated.

According to Tertullian, the Church of Rome tolerated Valentinus for decades after he was denounced by Polycarp of Smyran.

Easter Sunday

Although most who profess Christianity now celebrate it, Easter-Sunday was not observed by the second century Christians in Asia Minor. They observed Passover.

However, beginning with possibly the Roman leader Telesphorus or possibly Hyginus (or possibly Sixtus, there are no contemporaneous records, only an unclear report 5-6 decades later written by Irenaeus), what is now called Easter began to be observed in Rome. First, it was apparently a change in date of Passover from the 14th of Nisan to a Sunday. This is believed to have happened because there was a rebellion by Jews and that any distancing between Jews and Christians seemed physically advantageous (at least to some in Rome and the Greeks in Jerusalem). It was due to cowardice and antisemitism that the Sunday date was chosen (the fact that cowards often were killed anyway, does not prove they were not cowards

The late SDA scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek bishops in Jerusalem, which took over after the rebellion was crushed):

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)…

The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians…

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to “the inclination to break away from Judaism.” In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid “even the semblance of Judaism” (Bacchiocchi S. God’s Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).

It is likely that if Telesphorus made this change at the time to attempt to distance himself from the Jews in Rome. If he was the one who did it, and if he thought that this would spare his life, he was wrong as he was later killed by the Roman authorities (circa 136 A.D.). On the other hand, it is perhaps more likely that Hyginus, who was also possibly Greek that decided to introduce the Passover Sunday tradition, perhaps to decrease the wrath of the anti-Jewish Roman authorities.

Since Anicetus’ account claimed that this practice was began by presbyters who preceded him (see Easter), it would need to have been no later than the Greeks Telesphorus or Hyginus, as they were followed by Pius who was then followed by Anicetus (it probably did not originate with Sixtus as he preceded Telesphorus, he was not believed to have been Greek, and he was dead, if he even existed, circa 125 A.D.).

It is probable that Hyginus either began, continued, or started the practice of observing Passover on a Sunday, but there is no specific information that proves he did. But if he did, he obviously is not someone who should be celebrated by Christians as the Bible teaches that Passover was held on the 14th of Nisan.

Historical records demonstrate that the Apostles John and Philip, as well as their spiritual descendants in Asia Minor, did not change or compromise on this point–they continued to follow the Bible. But Hyginus might have compromised, and the Church of Rome at some point in time most certainly did.

Some articles 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!
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? 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?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Baptism and the Early Church Was it by immersion? Did it include infants? Does Polycarp prove infant baptism?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
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 to visit ‘Virgin of the Rosary’ shrine in Pompeii

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Marian image that is venerated at shrine in Pompeii

COGwriter

Pope Francis is planning to visit the ‘Virgin of the Rosary’ shrine in Pompeii:

Pope Francis will visit the Pontifical Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii during his trip to the Italian region of Campania next year. The visit will be the first stop during the Holy Father’s Apostolic trip to Naples on March 21st, 2015.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the archbishop of Naples, first announced the Pope’s visit in September on the Feast of St. Januarius.

In a communique released by the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, Pontifical Delegate of the shrine dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary, explained the significance of the Pope’s visit to the Marian church.

“The filial and tender Marian devotion that the Pope continues to show is also at the root of the Church of Pompeii’s strong commitment towards the humblest and neediest among us”, he said.  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-to-visit-marian-shrine-in-pompeii-next-year

Pope Francis is very oriented to his version of ‘Mary,’ an orientation that is NOT biblical.  Here is some information about the church he plans to visit as well as information related to the painting shown above:

The Pontifical Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei (Italian: Pontificio Santuario della Beata Vergine del Santo Rosario di Pompei) is a Roman Catholic cathedral, Marian pontifical shrine and minor basilica commissioned by Bartolo Longo, located in Pompei, Italy. It is the see of the Territorial Prelature of Pompei.

Bartolo Longo started restoring a church in disrepair in October 1873 and promoted a festival in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.  In 1875, Longo obtained a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary from a convent in Naples and raised funds to restore the image so as to locate it in the church. Miracles began to be reported and pilgrims began flocking in droves to the church.

The painting of “Our Lady of the Rosary” with its bronze gilt frame is presented to the pilgrims on the high altar. The venerated painting depicts the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus presenting rosaries to Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena. (Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei . Wikipedia, viewed 12/30/14)

The Bible (Isaiah 47:1) warns about a ‘Virgin,’ also called the ‘Lady of the Kingdoms’ (Isaiah 47:5), that engages in enchantments and sorceries (Isaiah 47:12).  The shrine in Pompeii appears to be related to that.

Notice something from my book Fatima Shock!:

Some feel that the rosary either came from St. Dominic or later Dominicans:

Some histories of the rosary claim this tradition, too, originated with Saint Dominic. One legend holds that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic in the church of Prouille, in 1208, and gave the rosary to him. However, other sources dispute this attribution and suggest that its roots were in the preaching of Alan de Rupe between 1470-1475.

Here is information from The Catholic Encyclopedia on the development of the rosary:

Impressed by this conspiracy of silence, the Bollandists, on trying to trace to its source the origin of the current tradition, found that all the clues converged upon one point, the preaching of the Dominican Alan de Rupe about the years 1470-75. He undoubtedly was the one who first suggested the idea that the devotion of “Our Lady’s Psalter” (a hundred and fifty Hail Mary’s) was instituted or revived by St. Dominic. Alan was a very earnest and devout man, but, as the highest authorities admit, he was full of delusions, and based his revelations on the imaginary testimony of writers that never existed (see Quétif and Echard, “Scriptores O.P.”, 1, 849).

So, the one who claimed that Dominic came up with the rosary was considered to be delusional by top Catholic authorities.

Also notice some interesting facts from Priest P.A. Duffner:

We do not have any historical documents dating from that period expressly referring to St. Dominic and the Rosary…We have to remember that in the time of St. Dominic:

1.  The HAIL MARY did not exist as we pray it today…The word JESUS was not added until the 14th century, and the second half of the prayer came later still.

2.   The OUR FATHER and the GLORY BE TO THE FATHER were not then part of the Rosary.

 3. The Mysteries of the Rosary…The fifteen mysteries in use today were officially established by Pope Pius V in 1569.

 4.   There was no pendent (the cross and five extra beads) as we have now.

5.  The very word “Rosary” taken from the Latin word “rosarium” meaning rose garden, or bouquet of roses, was not used in the time of Dominic as applied to this devotion.

Thus, the rosary as it now exists was not an original tradition as it did not come into being until well over a thousand years after the last of the original apostles died.

Catholic saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Monfort essentially  wrote that Alan de la Roche claims that he saw Dominic in a dream, that in 1214 Dominic had seen a “Lady” after he had beat himself into a coma, that the use of the rosary was sort of lost, but that Alan de la Roche later reintroduced it.

Even presuming he is correct, it should be abundantly clear that the rosary was NEITHER from the Bible nor an apostolic tradition.  The rosary and the current “Hail Mary” were late innovations.

Based upon Catholic teachings about the origin of the rosary, it apparently came from either someone in a coma (when the modern “Hail Mary” was not part of the rosary) or later from one who was delusional (and had other problems as well).  How can anyone claim that the “Lady of the Rosary” could possibly be Mary, mother of Jesus?

While Catholics tend to believe that the expression, “Hail Mary, full of grace,” is straight from the Bible, that is not literally correct. More literal translations of that portion of scripture would be: ‘Rejoice, you who enjoy…favour! (Luke 1:28, NJB) Rejoice, highly favored one (Luke 1:28, NKJV).

Also, the Bible (DRB, NJB, NKJV) never calls Mary “holy” as the Hail Mary prayer does.

When the Fatima apparition appeared on May 13, and then July 13, 1917, Lúcia claimed that it said:

Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of war.

…pray the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world, because only she can help you.

The idea that only the Lady of the Rosary could help the children leaves God completely out of the picture and makes the Lady more powerful than God.

This is not theologically proper. It is blasphemous.

It perhaps should be pointed out that the apparition that appeared in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 did not ever call herself ‘Mary,’ but the “Lady of the Rosary.”  As far as the Catholic saint Dominic Guzman of the 12th-13th century goes, he founded the Dominican order, which was the order that basically carried out the Inquisition. He and other ‘Marian’ seers should not be trusted as true Christians (see also Where is the True Christian Church Today?).

It has been my contention for several years, after searching the scriptures and studying history, that one or more apparitions believed to be Jesus’ mother ‘Mary” will be seen by the general public.

Will not many be deceived by this?

The Bible is clear that massive deception is coming (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Pope Francis has been encouraging Marian devotion through his words and actions.

It remains my position that it is very likely that apparitions that people will claim will be Mary, the mother of Jesus, will be part of the signs and lying wonders that are mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Matthew 24:24 (cf. Isaiah 47; Nahum 3:4-5).

The current Marian focused Pope Francis, as well as somewhat like-minded bishops, will likely be a factor in this. The visit to the Marian shrine of the rosary in Pompeii is one more step to get the public thinking that Jesus’ mother Mary is intervening and that people need to venerate her.  This should not be the case.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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.
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future?
Mystery of Civilization Why is civilization like it is? How will it end? What will replace it?Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Mystery of Civilization and How it Will End.
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
Feast of the Immaculate Conception? Did early Christians teach Mary had an immaculate conception and led a sinless life?
Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From?
Assumption of Mary Did Mary die? Was she taken to heaven on August 15th? What is known? What does the Bible show?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! provides concerned Christians with enough Catholic-documented facts to effectively counter every false Marian argument. In addition to the print version, there is a Kindle version of Fatima Shock! which you can acquire in seconds.

Was Apollinaris of Hierapolis RCC or COG?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Hierapolis, Turkey (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

The Catholics of Rome consider January 8th as the day to honor Apollinaris of Hierapolis. This should seem to be somewhat odd.

Why? Because the historical records that have been preserved show that Apollinaris held Church of God, not Church of Rome views. He also did not hold Protestant views.

The Protestant scholars Roberts and Donaldson wrote this:

Apollinaris was bishop of Hierapolis on the Maeander, and, Lightfoot thinks, was probably with Melito and Polycrates, known to Polycarp, and influenced by his example and doctrine.” (Roberts and Donaldson pp. 772-773).

Like Melito, Polycrates, and Polycarp, Apollinaris would be considered a Quartodeciman. That is, one who held that the date of Passover must remain the 14th of Nisan. But by this time in history, those associated with the Catholics of Rome and the “Orthodox” in Jerusalem and Alexandria kept Passover on a Sunday instead (as the Protestants generally do to this day).

Apollinaris Wrote About the Passover

Anyway, here is nearly all of what is available from what Apollinaris wrote,

There are, then, some who through ignorance raise disputes about these things (though their conduct is pardonable: for ignorance is no subject for blame — it rather needs further instruction), and say that on the fourteenth day the Lord ate the lamb with the disciples, and that on the great day of the feast of unleavened bread He Himself suffered; and they quote Matthew as speaking in accordance with their view. Wherefore their opinion is contrary to the law, and the Gospels seem to be at variance with them…The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors; American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

Apollinaris is showing then the Passover is (Nisan 14) and that it signifies the sacrifice of Christ, both of which are the positions of the Churches of God.

One Anglican scholar commented;

…there is no doubt that Apollinarius was a Quartodeciman…Those who kept Passover in the evening understood it to be a repetition of the Lord’s Supper (Stewart-Sykes A. Melito of Sardis On Pascha. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood (NY), 2001, p. 81).

Quartodecimans held to the original position of the apostles.

Praised by Serapion of Antioch (called Seraphion of Antioch by the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch)

Apollinaris was praised by Serapion of Antioch:

I have sent you letters of the most blessed Claudius Apollinarius, who was made bishop of Hierapolis in Asia (Serapion of Antioch. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From the epistle to Caricus and Ponticus. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors; American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

It is likely that this suggests that up until the time of Serapion, that those in Antioch were also Quartodecimans. And this also seems to have been suggested by Polycrates of Ephesus (and the 4th century historian Eusebius), who wrote about the time of Serapion that the Churches in Asia kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, like the Jews (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapters 23,25).

Apollinaris Taught the Millenium

Notice the following:

So Epiphanius, speaking on the notion of the millennium maintained by Apollinarius, says, “There is indeed a millennium mentioned by John…” (Panarion of Epiphanius, 77 in Bush G. The Millennium of the Apocalypse. 1842, p. 15).

The doctrines about Passover and the millenium pose severe problems for the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics. Although both groups claim Apollinaris as one of their saints, the reality is that those groups have both severely criticized both of the those beliefs.

Both groups supported the Council of Constantinople, whose initiator Theodosius decreed the death penalty for any who would keep Passover on the 14th (see Passover and the Early Church and Persecutions by Church and State). And not only have both groups condemned millenarianism, it is the only supposed “doctrine of Antichrist” listed in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (#676. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

Despite any Catholic observance in Apollinaris’ honor day, the reality is that based on what is actually known about Apollinaris, he had Church of God, not Church of Rome views.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Apollinaris of Hierapolis He was an early church leader that may have known Melito and Polycarp; he also wrote about the Passover.
Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism? Was the millennium (sometimes called chiliasm) taught by early Christians? Who condemned it? Will Jesus literally reign for 1000 years on the earth? Is this time near?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
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.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

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

Did Francis display relics of the Apostle Peter?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015


Peter’s Claimed Burial Site in St. Peter’s Basilica (photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

A while back, relics allegedly of the Apostle Peter were displayed:

November 24, 2013

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican publicly unveiled a handful of bone fragments purportedly belonging to St. Peter on Sunday, reviving the scientific debate and tantalizing mystery over whether the relics found in a shoe box truly belong to the first pope.

The nine pieces of bone sat nestled like rings in a jewel box inside a bronze display case on the side of the altar during a Mass commemorating the end of the Vatican’s yearlong celebration of the Christian faith. It was the first time they had ever been exhibited in public.

Pope Francis prayed before the fragments at the start of Sunday’s service and then clutched the case in his arms for several minutes after his homily.

Disputed claims
No pope has ever definitively declared the fragments to belong to the Apostle Peter, but Pope Paul VI in 1968 said fragments found in the necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica were “identified in a way that we can consider convincing.”

Some archaeologists dispute the finding.

But last week, a top Vatican official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said it almost doesn’t matter if archaeologists one day definitively determine that the bones aren’t Peter’s, saying Christians have prayed at Peter’s tomb for two millennia and will continue to, regardless. http://www.nbcnews.com/science/pope-puts-st-peters-relics-display-reviving-scientific-debate-2D11650786

Were these truly relics of Peter?

According to various sources and records, it is pretty much impossible that those could be the bones of Peter.

It should be noted that the earliest records accepted by the Church of Rome showed that early Christians did not venerate relics.

As far as Peter goes, let’s first notice what the Rheims New Testament records that Peter wrote just prior to his death:

14. Being certain that the laying away of my tabernacle is at hand, according as our Lord JESUS Christ also signified to me.  15. And I will do my diligence, you to have often after my decease also, that you may keep a memory of these things. 16. For, not having followed unlearned fables, have we made the power and ‘presence’ of our Lord JESUS Christ known to you: but c made beholders of his greatness. 17. For, he receiving from God his father honour and glory, this manner of voice coming down to him from the magnifical glory, This is my beloved son in whom I have pleased myself, hear him. 18. And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount. (II Peter 1:14-18).

This is problematic as far as Rome is concerned. The reason is that the above passage seems to be teaching that John was still with Peter (John was part of the “we heard”). This is indirectly acknowledged by the ANNOTATIONS from Chapter 1 of I Peter from the Rheims New Testament of 1582 on page 515 as it states:

c By this it is plain, that either John, James, or Peter must be the author of this epistle, for these three only were present at the Transfiguration. Matt. 17:1

Since the particular above James is believed to have been killed by 39 A.D. in Judea (Acts 12:1), either Peter died near then (which he did not, he died around three or so decades later) or the Apostle John must have still been with Peter. And since there is no evidence that the Apostle John went to Rome in the 60s A.D. The available evidence, including from Roman Catholic sources, suggests that John was in Jerusalem or Asia Minor at that time. Plus, if John was in Jerusalem or Asia Minor then, since Peter seems to be claiming that John was with him, then Peter would have been in Jerusalem or Asia Minor just prior to his death. Hence, to claim that Peter spent much time in Rome or died in Rome seems to be inconsistent with the biblical record.

Some Catholic sources report that Clement allegedly was appointed to take over from Peter then:

St. Clement in his Epistles to St. James, our Lord’s brother, witnesseth, that St. Peter encouraging him to take after his decease the charge of the Apostolic Roman See, promised that after his departure he would not cease to pray for him and his flock, thereby to ease him of his Pastoral burden (Annotations, Rheims New Testament, p. 516).

However, the Vatican no longer accepts that Clement wrote that letter and instead claims that Peter somehow put Linus in charge (although other sources state that Paul did that) and thus it has various contradiction involving Peter, his sojourn, and his alleged “apostolic succession” (it would seem that if any one succeeded Peter, it would be the Apostle John as he outlived Peter for perhaps three decades or so.)

The place of Peter’s burial is also controversial.

Essentially according to the Quo Vadis legend, Peter was buried in Rome. However, that account was not written until over a century after Peter died.

But there was something else that some have pointed to:

It is not before around 160 CE that we see some kind of interest by Roman Christians in the site by the construction a simple monument that consisted of a niche and a courtyard (the Tropaion Gaii). The monument was probably used for gatherings, but not as a marker as an individual grave, since memory of Peter’s original burying place was lost by the time the Tropaion was erected. The existence of the Tropaion did not result in the development of a Christian burial site, but was integrated into a middle-class non-Christian burial street. Only in the age of Constantine the site was firmly and finally taken over by Christians, thereby obliterating all earlier traces of burial activity apart from the immediate space around the Tropaion. ( Zangenberg, Jürgen; Labahn, Michael. Christians as a religious minority in a multicultural city: modes of interaction and identity formation in early Imperial Rome : studies on the basis of a seminar at the second conference of the European Association for Biblical Studies (EABS) from July 8-12, 2001, in Rome. Volume 243 of Journal for the study of the New Testament Library of New Testament Studies, the Series European studies on Christian origins. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004, p. 132)

Furthermore that site must not have been accepted originally as , according to the Liber Pontificalis (the Book of Popes) it was Roman bishop Cornelius who supposedly moved the body of Peter to its present location (nearly two centuries after Peter died). Here is one written account:

XXII Cornelius (Pope 251-253)…He during his pontificate at the request of a certain matron Lucina, took up the bodies of the apostles, blessed Peter and Paul up out of the catacombs by night; first the body of blessed Paul was received by the blessed Lucina] and laid in her own garden on the Via Ostiensis, near the place where he was beheaded; the body of the blessed Peter was received by the blessed Cornelius, the bishop, and laid near to the place where he was crucified, among the bodies of the holy bishops, in the shrine of Apollo, on the Mons Aureus, in the Batican, by the palace of Nero, on June 29. (Translated by Louise Ropes Loomis. The Book of the Popes (Liber Pontificalis. Originally published by Columbia University Press, NY 1916. 2006 edition by Evolution Publishing, Merchantville (NJ), pp. 25-26).

Hence, one of the earliest Catholic writings attempting to demonstrate that Rome had a series of early bishops/popes states that Peter was NOT originally buried in Rome. There would be no point in moving Peter’s body if people actually had believed that the Tropaion Gaii marked the spot.

Interestingly the conclusion of the one who supposedly identified the body of Peter in Vatican Hill was that he was not convinced it was Peter:

Antonio Ferrua …was the Jesuit archaeologist responsible for uncovering what is believed to be the tomb of St Peter in the grottoes under St Peter’s Basilica in Rome…Ferrua’s discovery came, however, quite by chance. In 1939 Pope Pius XI died and plans were made to bury him beside Pius X in the crypt below the basilica. But when workmen began to dig under St Peter’s they came upon the floor of Constantine’s original basilica, beneath which was a necropolis, a street of Roman tombs dating from the 2nd century AD…Under the supervision of Monsignor Ludwig Kaas, the Administrator of St Peter’s, the Vatican appointed four archaeologists, including Ferrua, to investigate the tombs…Ferrua’s discovery was shrouded in controversy; in 1953, after the death of Monsignor Kaas, it was revealed by a workman that he had discovered some other bones which Kaas had ordered to be removed from the repository and stored at the Vatican. When these were later identified as the remains of an elderly man, it was concluded that these were the bones of the saint. “The relics of St Peter,” announced Pope Paul VI on June 26 1968, “have been identified in a manner which we believe convincing”; the following day, after a ceremony in front of the aedicula, the remains were restored to the repository.

Ferrua was more circumspect. Aware of the scepticism that surrounded even the analysis of the Greek fragment – which others had read as Petros endei or “Peter is not here” – he recently told the Italian Catholic newspaper L’Avvenire that he was “not convinced” that the saint’s bones had been found…A man of deep faith, Ferrua was a rigorous scholar, much admired for his refusal to allow his beliefs to compromise his work (The Rev Antonio Ferrua. Telegraph, London – May 29, 2003 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1431338/The-Rev-Antonio-Ferrua.html viewed 07/20/09).

Thus, the one credited for finding Peter’s body was unconvinced by the evidence he had investigated.

It should be noted that there is also the view that Peter died in Judea and was interred in the Mount of Olives—an ossuary box bearing the inscription “Shimon Bar Jonah” has been found and some believe it may be referring to the Simon Bar-Jonah (Fingegan J. The Archaeology of the New Testament. Princeton: Princeton University Press, reprt 1979, pp. 359-375) that became the Apostle Peter as per Matthew 16:17—and although that is inconclusive, it is probably stronger contemporary “evidence” than Rome seems to have as Peter’s original burial site.

Here is some limited information about it written by F. Paul Peterson in 1960, edited by James Tabor, and somewhat shortened by me:

While visiting a friend in Switzerland, I heard of what seemed to me, one of the greatest discoveries since the time of Christ—that Peter was buried in Jerusalem and not in Rome…

After talking to many priests and investigating various sources of information, I finally was greatly rewarded by learning where I could buy the only known book on the subject, which was also written in Italian. It is called, “Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit”, printed in 1958 at the Tipografia del PP. Francescani, in Jerusalem. It was written by P. B. Bagatti and J. T. Milik, both Roman Catholic priests…

In Jerusalem I spoke to many Franciscan priests who all read, finally, though reluctantly, that the bones of Simon Bar Jona (St. Peter) were found in Jerusalem, on the Franciscan monastery site called, “Dominus Flevit” (where Jesus was supposed to have wept over Jerusalem), on the Mount of Olives…the names of Christian Biblical characters were found on the ossuaries (bone boxes). The names of Mary and Martha were found on one box and right next to it was one with the name of Lazarus, their brother. Other names of early Christians were found on other boxes. Of greatest interest, however, was that which was found within twelve feet from the place where the remains of Mary, Martha and Lazarus were found—the remains of St. Peter. They were found in an ossuary, on the outside of which was clearly and beautifully written in Aramaic, “Simon Bar Jona”…

Then I asked, “Does Father Bagatti (co-writer of the book in Italian on the subject, and archaeologist) really believe that those are the bones of St. Peter?” “Yes, he does,” was the reply. Then I asked, “But what does the Pope think of all this?” That was a thousand dollar question and he gave me a million dollar answer. “Well,” he confidentially answered in a hushed voice, “Father Bagatti told me personally that three years ago he went to the Pope (Pius XII) in Rome and showed him the evidence and the Pope said to him, ‘Well, we will have to make some changes, but for the time being, keep this thing quiet’.” In awe I asked also in a subdued voice, “So the Pope really believes that those are the bones of St. Peter?” “Yes,” was his answer. “The documentary evidence is there, he could not help but believe.” …

I did not have the opportunity to see priest Bagatti while in Jerusalem. I wrote to him, however, on March 15, 1960, as follows: “I have spoken with a number of Franciscan priests and monks and they have told me about you and the book of which you are a co-writer. I had hoped to see you and to compliment you on such a great discovery, but time would not permit. Having heard so much about you and that you are an archaeologist (with the evidence in hand), I was convinced, with you, concerning the ancient burial ground that the remains found in the ossuary with the name on it, ‘Simon Bar Jona’, written in Aramaic, were those of St. Peter.” It is remarkable that in his reply he did not contradict my statement, which he certainly would have done if he honestly could have done so. “I was very much convinced with you – … that the remains found in the ossuary … were those of St. Peter.” This confirms the talk I had with the Franciscan monk in Bethlehem and the story he told me of Priest Bagatti’s going to the Pope with the evidence concerning the bones of St. Peter in Jerusalem. In his letter one can see that he is careful because of the Pope’s admonition to keep this discovery quiet. (Peterson F. Paul. Saint Peter’s Tomb: The Discovery of Peter’s Tomb in Jerusalem in 1953. http://www.jesusdynasty.com/blog/2007/04/03/has-the-ossuary-of-simon-peter-aka-simeon-son-of-jonah-been-found/ viewed 02/17/11)

The Jerusalem burial of Peter is not currently taught by the Church of Rome. Thus, it appears to me, at least, that scholars (including Catholic ones) tend to understand that it is questionable if Peter was buried in Rome and if his body is actually in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (see also What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History?).

Thus, it appears to me, at least, that scholars (including Catholic ones) tend to understand that it is questionable if Peter was buried in Rome and if his body is actually in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Apostle Peter He was an original apostle and early Christian leader. Where was Peter buried? Where did Peter die?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood?
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Amazon Book What does the Bible say about a pope near this time? Is the final pope to be an antipope and antichrist? Does Catholic prophecy point to Pope Francis as being the dreaded “Peter the Roman”? This 186 page book provides information and answers.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle This electronic version of the printed book which is available for only US$2.99. And you do not need an actual Kindle device to read it. Why? Amazon will allow you to download it to almost any device: Please click HERE to download one of Amazon s Free Reader Apps. After you go to for your free Kindle reader and then go to The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

CG7 on Israel in prophecy

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Rebuilt Gymnasium in Sardis.

This is one of the most impressive buildings in the area of any of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. However, it has been recently and massively rebuilt as its original condition was in ruin. And while it and its size are impressive, it no longer functions as it once did.

COGwriter

CG7-Denver has had major difficulties in the area of prophetic understanding. Here is some of what it had in an article in its Bible Advocate magazine concerning Israel:

Israel in Bible Prophecy

Wesley Walker of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, has served CoG7 as a pastor and in other capacities for more than forty years. He … published his first book, Answers to Bible Questions. Elder Walker’s answers here reflect the Church’s historic views on Israel.

BA: What’s the big picture of land ownership in the Middle East, as you see it?

The present problems there began with Abraham. In Genesis 12 God speaks to Abraham and tells him to leave his father’s house and go into a land that He would show him. Abraham obeyed and left his homeland. Then God gives Abraham the boundaries of his inheritance in Genesis 15:18. Check a Bible map; you will notice the river of Egypt is to the south of Israel and the Euphrates River is to the north. The great sea would be the western border. We do not know exactly how far east it extended, but it may have been into modern Jordan and Syria, east of the river Jordan.

For more than sixty years now Israel has been in the news be-cause of land disputes between her and her Arab neighbors, especially the Palestinians. This conflict will continue until true ownership of the land is established…

BA: What prophecies were fulfilled for Israel in the past century?

The Zionist movement began in 1897, and a few Jews went home. In 1922, when the League of Nations approved a British mandate over Palestine, the British government appointed a Zionist board, and more went home. By the end of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust, six hundred thousand more Jews had returned to their homeland. Today, again, Israel is alive in her own land, with these prophecies fulfilled: Isaiah 11:11, 12; Jeremiah 31:7-12; 32:37-44; and Ezekiel 36:6, 7, 21-24; 37:21-28.

The most convincing prophecy of Israel’s ultimate return may be in Amos 9:14, 15. Through the prophet, God spoke a permanent presence of His people in the land of Israel. They would build, plant, eat, and no one would uproot them again! I believe this has happened in my lifetime...

Israel has not yet gotten all the land that was promised to Abra-ham, but she will. She did not get it all at once in the beginning, nor is she getting it all at once to-day. But little by little, Israel will, and there will be more violent events before she does.

CG7-Denver fails to understand that the prophecies to Israel in the Bible were NOT limited to the tribe of Judah. Furthermore, I do not think that it is at all possible that the current nation of Israel will increase its size to end up with all the land that God promised the descendants of Abraham as this will not happen until after Christ returns.

If that additional land is one of the signs that CG7-Denver is looking for prior to the return of Jesus Christ, then it will sadly not know what is happening when the Great Tribulation begins. Recall that the Bible teaches:

1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write…3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you (Revelation 3:1,3).

Anyway, what about Wesley Walker’s point about Amos 9:14-15 as the most convincing proof of his position (which according to the Bible Advocate reflects CG7-Denver’s historical view)? Let us look at what the Bible actually says here:

14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them
,”
Says the LORD your God (Amos 9:14-15)

Notice that the above indicates that Israel will not be pulled up from the land. Well, there are two significant problems with the nation of Israel and that prophecy applying now:

  1. The current nation of Israel still has not received all the promised land. Hence, until it does so, the above truly is not being fulfilled.
  2. The current nation of Israel returned some of the land it did receive to Egypt some years ago as part of a peace deal. Hence, it allowed itself to be “pulled up” from the land.

CG7-Denver may wish to re-think its position here, because the modern nation of Israel has not received all the land and in fact has given some back. (Those who truly wish to understand about Israel in prophecy should read the article Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel.)

Additionally, Wesley Walker cited Jeremiah 32:37-41 (I left out verses 42-44 for space) which states:

37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. 38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. 41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’ (Jeremiah 32:37-41)

Does anyone really think that the modern nation of Israel has one mind to fear God today? Israel is essentially a secular state that is divided politically. It simply does not fulfill Jeremiah 32.

Perhaps I should add that while Wesley Walker also cited Jeremiah 31:7-12, this is referring to Ephraim and hence is not limited to Judah. But since CG7-Denver refuses to acknowledge the true identity of Israel in prophecy, it overlooked that critically important point.

FWIW, I also looked up Ezekiel 36:6, 7, 21-24; 37:21-28 and disagree that the current nation of Israel has necessarily fulfilled any of these. One of the reason why is that Ezekiel 36:21-24 specifically leads into verses 25-28:

24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:24-28)

Of course, this simply has not happened. And notice that until it does, the prophesied dwelling in the land promised to fathers (like Abraham) will not happen. Also, the prophecies in Ezekiel 37:21-28, do not happen until after other events in Ezekiel 37.

In his autobiography, Herbert W. Armstrong included a letter one from CG7′s former top leader, A.N. Dugger) who wrote that CG7 would not teach British Commonwealth and United States peoples were descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, even though that leader believed what Herbert Armstrong had written on that subject was true. Notice what A.N. Dugger wrote:

Dear Brother Armstrong:

I…have just finished the manuscript on the Third Angels’s Message and British Israel…You are surely right…I cannot use it…May the Lord bless you…

(A photo of the signed letter from A.N. Dugger, dated July 28, 1929 is in The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstong, 1973 edition, p.372–note that this letter was removed from the 1986 ed. that was produced after his death). A.N. Dugger also admitted the truth of the Anglo-Israelism doctrine to Merritt Dickinson in 1912, but A.N. Dugger would not teach it (Nickels, p. 143).

Of course, CG7 itself does not hold to that.  Because it misunderstands many prophetic and doctrinal truths, that fact is that those in  CG7-Denver will ultimately learn is no place of safety (Revelation 12:14-16), but will suffer during the final 3 1/2 years before Jesus returns (Revelation 12:17).

Items of related interest may include:

Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People. A short YouTube of prophetic interest may be Barack Obama and the State of the Apocalypse.
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?
Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? What does the Bible really teach? Who really is left behind?
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.
Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace their history through this group. Whaid Rose is the president of the largest CG7 group (Denver). Do you know much about them?

What happened to the ‘Ephesus See’?

Sunday, January 4th, 2015


Ephesus

COGwriter

Although the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics generally only recognize 5 primary (there are a couple of minor ones that are also semi-accepted) locations as “apostolic sees,” there was a sixth that they used to recognize: Ephesus of Asia Minor.

The Apostles John and Philip settled in Asia Minor.

By 67 AD, John was in Ephesus and led the churches in Asia Minor (Ruffin C.B.  The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary.  Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (IN), 1997, p. 94).

It has been long recognized that Ephesus had “apostolic succession.” In the late second century, Tertullian wrote:

Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally…Since you are able to cross to Asia , you get Ephesus (Tertullian. Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 36).

In the 19th century, Francis Patrick Kenrick wrote:

Ephesus was an autocephalous see…which it derived from the apostles Paul and John, its founders (Kenrick FP. The primacy of the Apostolic see vindicated. Murphy, 1875. Original from Harvard University, Digitized Aug 26, 2008, p. 179).

Some have referred to this as “the apostolic see of Ephesus” (Duchesne L, Jenkins C. Early History of the Christian Church: The fifth century Volume 3 of Early History of the Christian Church: From Its Foundation to the End of the Third Century. Longmans, Green, 1924. Original from the University of California Digitized Dec 11, 2006, p. 320). And furthermore, some in Celts/Kelts in the British and Ireland areas in the 7th century claimed to be descended from it (see The Pergamos Church Era).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that “the See of Ephesus, {was} founded by St. John the Apostle” (Gerland, Ernst. The Byzantine Empire. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 2 Feb. 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03096a.htm>).

It has been written that John’s successor there was Polycarp, “Polycarp, the successor of St . John in the see of Ephesus” (Wall JC. The first Christians of Britain. Talbot & Co., 1927. Original from the University of California, Digitized Sep 25, 2007, p. 34)–but Polycarp did not seem to be prominent over much of true Christendom until Jerusalem was taken over in 135 A.D.

Ephesus of Asia Minor had what they tend to call “apostolic succession.”  This succession was accepted by early Roman Catholic supporters such as Irenaeus and Tertullian. It was recognized as actually one of only two specified groups that allegedly had “apostolic succession” towards the end of the third century (the other “sees” kind of were put together after the fact and even the Church of Rome has no actual proof that it had the type of succession that it now claims prior to the mid-second century).

Here is a list of early, apparently faithful, leaders:

Peter/Paul/James through death circa 64-68 (mainly oversaw churches from Asia Minor and Jerusalem)
John through death circa 95-100 (oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor)
Polycarp through death circa 155-156 (oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor)
Thraseas through death circa 160 (oversaw the churches from Eumenia, but died in Smyrna)
Sagaris through death circa 166-167 (died in Laodicea of Asia Minor)
Papirius through death circa 170 (oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor THIS DATE IS APPROXIMATE AND BASED ON THE LOGIC THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA USED FOR THRASEAS)
Melito through death circa 177-180 (oversaw churches from Sardis of Asia Minor)
Polycrates through death circa 200 (oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor)
*Apollonius of Ephesus through death circa 210 (oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor).
*Camerius of Smyrna through death circa 220 (possibly oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor).

So what happened to change its influence?

In the first century, apparently a false apostle, who is now called Mark, preached an allegorical interpretation of scripture in Alexandria. Alexandria was one of the most important intellectual centers of the Roman Empire in ancient times and had much influence in the Greco-Roman world. The falsely titled “Epistle of Barnabus” came from Alexandria in the early second century and also preached allegorical interpretation of scripture (see its chapter 10:2). The second century Gnostic heretics Valentinus and Basilides were Alexandrian.

Within the Roman Empire the religion of Mithraism was increasing in popularity while versions of Christianity also were. Some considered that the two religions were in competition with each other (though that was really only the case with the compromisers and the followers of Mithras). Mithras was a pagan sun-god. Many beliefs and practices associated with Mithraism started to rub-off on many who professed Christ in the second through fourth centuries.  Because of anti-Jewish sentiment, there was a separation there between those who kept to the original faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and those who chose to distance themselves from it and move closer to Mithraism.

According to the 18th century historian E. Gibbon, around 135 A.D., many who professed Christ in Jerusalem chose to be led by a Latin leader who urged them to compromise with God’s law (which Gibbon calls “the Mosaic law”, see article on the Ephesus Church era) in order to be tolerated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Certain compromises in Rome apparently occurred around the same time, apparently for the same reason (see articles Arab Nazarenes and Passover).

The acceptance of some of the doctrines held by other heretics (such as Simon Magus, Marcion, and Montanus) spread to many who professed Christ. Various allegorical heretics, such as Valentinus, went from Alexandria to Rome and elsewhere and began spreading various Gnostic and semi-gnostic teachings. And while history shows that second century leaders from Asia Minor opposed these heretics and their teachings, many of them were tolerated, at least for decades, by the main churches in Rome and Alexandria.

Part of the reason for that acceptance of certain Gnostic teachings was that it greatly increased the number of Gentiles into those churches. Notice what one historian wrote:

The Gnostics blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets … the Gnostics were imperceptibly divided into more than fifty particular sects, of whom the most celebrated appear to have been the Basilidians, the Valentinians, the Marcionites… Each of these sects could boast of its bishops and congregations, of its doctors and martyrs; and, instead of the Four Gospels adopted by the church the heretics produced a multitude of histories in which the actions and discourses of Christ and of his apostles were adapted to their respective tenets. The success of the Gnostics was rapid and extensive. They covered Asia and Egypt, established themselves in Rome, and sometimes penetrated into the provinces of the West. For the most part they arose in the second century…

The Gentile converts, whose strongest objections and prejudices were directed against the law of Moses, could find admission into many Christian societies, which required not from their untutored mind any belief of an antecedent revelation. Their faith was insensibly fortified and enlarged, and the church was ultimately benefited by the conquests of its most inveterate enemies (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788).

While I do not agree with Gibbon that the true church “ultimately benefited” from this compromise as he indicated, this compromise did allow the mainstream Greco-Roman churches to “enlarge” as Gibbon wrote and become the majority of those who professed Christ.

In the second century, one or more semi-gnostic schools developed in Alexandria, including the one headed by the semi-gnostic Clement of Alexandria and then Origen, whose teachings greatly influenced professing Christians in the Greco-Roman world. However, many of the teachings of the main school there have been condemned as heretical, even by Catholic and Protestant sources.

Notice what Dr. John Walvoord, who taught at the Dallas Theological Seminary for fifty years wrote about it:

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).

Over time, some of the more obvious Gnostic concepts (like Aeons) were never formally adopted as the Gnostics taught them, but others that the allegorists felt had some type of support from tradition and/or scripture were adopted by the forming Greco-Roman “Catholic/Orthodox” confederation. And although leaders stood up to the early allegorists (for two see What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?), the allegorizers continued to increase their influence. The Orthodox and even the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI have praised Origen (who ran that Alexandrian school in the early third century) even though some his beliefs have been portrayed as heretical by the same Pope Benedict (see Did The Early Church Millenarianism?).

After a local persecution by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus who died in 211 A.D., the church in Antioch ended up a leader (Asclepiades) that was acceptable to those who compromised in Jerusalem and apparently other areas. Also in the early third century, a compromising Roman leader (Callistus) allowed abortion and generally lowered moral standards, which resulted in great increases among his and related churches.

Around 244 A.D., one “Gregory the Wonder Worker” of Neocaeseria claimed to see apparitions and apparently had mystical powers (Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions). Through the combination of his influence, Imperial persecutions, the rise of the allegorists, and doctrinal compromise, changes occurred in Antioch and Asia Minor. Allegedly “he could cast his cloak over a man, and cause his death…he could bring the presiding demons back to their shrine” (Roberts A, Donaldson J, Volume 20, p. 3).

Around 250 A.D., during the severe empire-wide persecution by the Emperor Decius, the most public leader of the church in Smyrna (Eudaemon), apostatized. Shortly after this persecution, something new happened: A new leadership was installed throughout Asia Minor that was commended by the allegorist tolerating Bishop of Alexandria (Dionysius) who reported:

But know now, my brethren, that all the churches throughout the East and beyond, which formerly were divided, have become united. And all the bishops everywhere are of one mind, and rejoice greatly in the peace which has come beyond expectation. Thus Demetrianus in Antioch, Theoctistus in Cæsarea, Mazabanes in Ælia, Marinus in Tyre (Alexander having fallen asleep), Heliodorus in Laodicea (Thelymidres being dead), Helenus in Tarsus, and all the churches of Cilicia, Firmilianus, and all Cappadocia. I have named only the more illustrious bishops, that I may not make my epistle too long and my words too burdensome (Cited in Eusebius. Church History, Book VII, Chapter V, Verse I).

Notice that the Alexandrian Bishop acknowledged that those in the East (Asia Minor) had been divided from the Alexandrian and Roman churches, were no longer divided. This is because there were no longer any original Christians leading them, but only those who tended towards allegory and non-biblical traditions. Is your religion one that followed the faithful or those who followed the compromisers?

And shortly after this time is the first recorded instance of the Italians being able to influence a Roman Emperor enough so that they could install a bishop of their choice (probably either Dmonus or Timaeus) in Antioch (circa 270-273 A.D.) (please see the article The Smyrna Church era).

Hence, essentially due to compromise and persecutions, the semi-gnostic allegorizers tended to become the main group of professing Christians. For example, by the third and fourth century, the Roman Church no longer taught many apostolic teachings that it once had and instead included more and more teachings that did not originate in the Bible (this is documented in the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?). And after the third century compromise and takeover in Asia Minor, Ephesus lost most of the rest of its influence to Constantinople in the fourth century.

While true Christians remained throughout history (please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3), they were often a persecuted minority (see also Persecutions by Church and State), and were more specifically persecuted by the State beginning after the Council of Nicea in the fourth century and the subsequent “edicts against heretics” by Emperors Constantine (who had been a follower of Mithraism) in 331 and Theodosius in 381 (prior to that the Roman state normally persecuted Greco-Roman professors of Christ and original believers together)–so they fled into the wilderness for 1260 years (cf. Revelation 12:6).

Throughout time, God raised up faithful Church of God leaders and groups that kept “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)–for documentation please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3.

The Continuing Church of God specifically traces its history through the early leaders of the Church of God in Ephesus, and best represents the teachings of the early faithful in Asia Minor today.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church?
News Articles Related to Church History This link is to articles on Church history that were once published on the COG News Page.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation.
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? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
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?
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?
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?
Gregory the Wonder Worker Also known as Gregory Thaumaturgus, this third century Eastern Orthodox leader was one of the most dangerous heretics and his views have been adopted by many who profess Christ.
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? A YouTube video or related interesy may be: Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him.
Melito of Sardis Who was this 2nd Century Church Leader? What Old Testament did he list? What did he teach that most who call themselves Christian later change?
Thraseas Thraseas died circa 160 in Smyrna, but oversaw the churches from Eumenia.
Sagaris Sagaris died circa 166-167 and oversaw a church in Laodicea of Asia Minor.
Papirius He died circa 170 and oversaw churches from Smyrna. He likely co-wrote and/or approved the document known as The Martyrdom of Polycarp.
Polycrates of Ephesus He was an early church leader that claimed to continue the practices of the Gospel, John, Philip, Melito, and Polycarp, while refusing to accept traditions that came from Rome.
Apollonius of Ephesus He died circa 210.
Theophilus of Antioch This is one of the second century leaders of some Christians in Antioch and is considered a Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Serapion of Antioch He was possibly a faithful third century leader in Antioch.
Apollinaris of Hierapolis He was an early church leader that may have known Melito and Polycarp; he also wrote about the Passover.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.

Catholic condemnations of New Years

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

Tonight, many around the world, including many who profess Christ will be celebrating New Year’s which occurs on the Roman calendar January 1st.

Did you know that not only was this day not observed by early true Christians, even Roman Catholic supporting writers condemned the celebration associated with it?

Notice what Tertullian, “the father of Latin theology,” wrote in the early third century:

The Minervalia are as much Minerva’s, as the Saturnalia Saturn’s; Saturn’s, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year’s gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens’ wives and the aediles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol’s birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are befitting to a Christian master, unless it be he who shall think them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter X. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But, however, the majority (of Christians) have by this time induced the belief in their mind that it is pardonable if at any time they do what the heathen do, for fear “the Name be blasphemed”…To live with heathens is lawful, to die with them is not. Let us live with all; let us be glad with them, out of community of nature, not of superstition. We are peers in soul, not in discipline; fellow-possessors of the world, not of error. But if we have no right of communion in matters of this kind with strangers, how far more wicked to celebrate them among brethren! Who can maintain or defend this?…By us,…the Saturnalia and New-year’s and Midwinter’s festivals and Matronalia are frequented–presents come and go–New-year’s gifts–games join their noise–banquets join their din! Oh better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself!…Not the Lord’s day, not Pentecost, even it they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear lest they should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive lest we seem to be heathens! (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XIV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

What Tertullian seems to be saying is that observing New Year’s celebrations make Christians appear to be followers of pagan gods, and since the pagans would not intentionally celebrate days considered by many to be Christian, Christians should not celebrate days that are honored by the heathen. Specifically, he felt that those who profess Christ should not celebrate New Year’s or other pagan days, as even the observance is a form of idolatry.

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 reported:

Christian writers and councils condemned the heathen orgies and excesses connected with the festival of the Saturnalia, which were celebrated at the beginning of the year: Tertullian blames Christians who regarded the customary presents — called strenae (Fr. étrennes) from the goddess Strenia, who presided over New Year’s Day (cf. Ovid, Fasti, 185-90) — as mere tokens of friendly intercourse (De Idol. xiv), and towards the end of the sixth century the Council of Auxerre (can. I) forbade Christians strenas diabolicas observare. The II Council of Tours held in 567 (can. 17) prescribes prayers and a Mass of expiation for New Year’s Day, adding that this is a practice long in use (patres nostri statuerunt). Dances were forbidden, and pagan crimes were to be expiated by Christian fasts (St. Augustine, Serm., cxcvii-viii in P.L., XXXVIII, 1024; Isidore of Seville, De Div. Off. Eccl., I, xli; Trullan Council, 692, can. lxii). (Tierney, John. “New Year’s Day.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 27 Dec. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11019a.htm>)

So, the celebration of New Year’s was originally opposed by “Christian writers” according to the Church of Rome. New Year’s was also observed in honor of the goddess Strenua/Strenia, the goddess of purification and well being. It may partially be because of her that New Year’s resolutions and vows are made. Hence, it definitely should not be considered to be an original apostolic practice or even early tradition for the Catholics of Rome.

New Year’s day did not become a holy day for the Roman Catholic Church until 487 A.D. when it was declared to be the Feast of the Circumcision (though it may have been also observed in the fourth century, but other sources suggest eighth century or later dates). But, of course, since it was not likely that Jesus was circumcised at midnight, that should also show all who carefully look into this, that New Year’s celebrations are not really related to the circumcision of the baby Jesus.

The fact is that the December 25-January 1 period was originally a time for partying and honoring the sun and various pagan gods. Modern people seem to ignore that, just like some unfaithful “Christians” did in the third century.

The Bible, however, does explain when the year is to begin, and it is NOT in the middle of the Winter:

2 This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you … 6 the fourteenth day of the same month… 11 It is the LORD’s Passover (Exodus 12:2,6,11).

God’s year begins in the Spring. Notice also some of the activities that are condemned in the New Testament:

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:12-14)

A night of drunken revelry is not a Christian holiday and should not be observed by the faithful. More scriptures on this can be found in the article Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate?

People who claim to believe the Bible should truly live by what it teaches.

Articles of related interest may include:

Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world’s New Year’s day.
Canadian & Philadelphian Mummers Parades: Another tie to Saturnalia In Canada there is a ’12 days of Christmas’ celebration involving Mummers. In Philadelphia, a parade is held on New Years. Does this come from the Bible or where?
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.  Here is a link to the video: Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2015?
Project Prophecy: Economic Collapse Starting in 2015? Jim Rickards once worked for the CIA and also was once part of a a USA government program called called ‘Project Prophecy.’ He has a video were he claims that starting in 2015, the USA may have economic collapse resulting in a 25-Year Great Depression. He mainly cites debt figures and claims advises alternatives to the USA dollar which he says will collapse? What did Rand Paul state? Can the USA dollar collapse?  See also ‘Project Prophecy’ 25 Year Depression
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Is Smoking a Sin? What does the Bible teach? What have COG leaders written? Can smokers change?
Binge Alcohol Drinking and the Bible Many college students and others overindulge in alcohol. Are there health risks? What does the Bible teach?
Obesity and Prophecy Does the Bible warn about the consequences of being obese? Is overeating dangerous? Is gluttony condemned?
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.
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?

Is January 1st when God’s new year begins?

Saturday, December 27th, 2014


Roman God Janus in Vatican Museum

COGwriter

Does God begin His new year on January st? If not, what is the origin of January 1st and New Year’s?

Back in 46 B.C., Julius Caesar declared that January 1st would mark the beginning of the new year. January was named after Janus, the god of gates and doors in Roman mythology. People prayed to Janus when they wanted something new in their lives (such as resolutions). Janus is normally represented with two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking to the future (the two faces also signified change the Janus would bring in, see Burchett, p. 15). The first day of the month of January was sacred to him.

It did not come from the Bible.

The Feast of Circumcision?

New Year’s day did not become a holy day for the Roman Catholic Church until 487 A.D. when it was declared to be the Feast of the Circumcision (though it may have been also observed in the fourth century, but other sources suggest eighth century or later dates):

Our “New- Year’s Day, “the “Feast of the Circumcision,” was called the octave of Christmas as early as 487, AD, and was instituted by the Church to commemorate the ceremony of the Jewish law which the Saviour submitted. In the time of Numa the old Roman heathens dedicated the day to Janus, the double-faced deity…(Savage J., editor. The Manhattan and de la Salle monthly. New York Catholic Protectory, 1875 Original from the New York Public Library Digitized Jul 13, 2006, p. 2)

The Feast of the Circumcision has been observed in the Roman church since 487 and in the Anglican church since 1549. (Douglas GW, Compton HD. The American book of days: a compendium of information about holidays, festivals, notable anniversaries and Christian and Jewish holy days, with notes on other American anniversaries worthy of remembrance. H. W. Wilson Co., 1957 Original from the University of California Digitized Sep 25, 2008, p. 2)

This gave the Catholic, as well as Anglican, Church an eight-day festival with a ‘holy day’ at the beginning and the end, similar in that respect to the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-35). It was determined that if Jesus was born on December 25th (even though he could not have been), since he was circumcised eight days later (Luke 2:21), he would have been circumcised on January 1st, hence the rationale for New Year’s being ‘the Feast of the Circumcision.’

It should be added that there is no indication in the Bible that Jesus’ circumcision should be celebrated.

What Happens?

So, how is New Year’s celebrated? Well customs do vary around the world. Various cultures believe that meeting with people, eating certain foods, or consuming certain drinks will help insure good luck for the year.

In the 1700s, notice a poem that was written to and about Janus from The poetical works of Jonathan Swift, Volumes 2-3, By Jonathan Swift, John Mitford, p. 120:

TO JANUS, ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, 1726.’

Two-faced Janus, god of Time!
Be my Phoebus while I rhyme;
To oblige your crony Swift,
Bring our dame a new year’s gift;
She has got but half a face;
Janus, since thou hast a brace,
To my lady once be kind;
Give her half thy face behind.

God of Time, if you be wise,
Look not with your future eyes;
What imports thy forward sight?
Well, if you could lose it quite.
Can you take delight in viewing
This poor Isle’s 2 approaching ruin,
When thy retrospection vast
Sees the glorious ages past?
Happy nation were we blind,
Or had only eyes behind!

So, some consider Janus to be the “God of Time”–but no real Christian would.

It seems, though, that Janus could have been mainly a side issue for the year to start then:

The connection between Janus and the ceremonies of January first may be still further illustrated by these lines from the Carmina Tria de Mensibus:

Hie Iani mensis sacer est: en aspice ut aris tura micent, sumant ut pia liba Lares. Annorum saeclique caput, natalis honorumpurpureos fastis qui numerat proceres.

which may mean, “This is the sacred month of January—sacred because of the ceremonies. January is the beginning of the year, because the purple-clad chiefs date their office from that month.” Although Janus is used here only as a personification of his month, yet some sanctity is reflected to the god himself from the ceremonies of the day. From the lines just quoted, it seems evident that Fastorum genitor parensque* means only, “Janus, i. e. January, is the beginning of the year, a fact to be emphasized by patriotic Romans, because the consuls assumed, or renewed, office on January first.” (Janus in Roman life and cult: a study in Roman religions … By Bessie Rebecca Burchett, p. 15)

In the US and many other Western cultures, vows called New Year’s resolutions are often made. From this authors research, while repentance is a good thing, he believes that this custom of resolutions is similar to the prayers made to Janus regarding desiring something new. According most available research, most people break their New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully they are not making them before the true God whose word says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed–Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6).

Another activity which occurs in the US and elsewhere on New Year’s is heavy drinking of alcohol. Many who go to New Year’s parties get drunk. Paul warned Christians, “Do not be drunk” (Ephesians 5:18).

God’s New Year Begins in the Spring

Is January 1st the beginning of the New Year God declared?

No.

When speaking of the Hebrew month of Abib, which occurs around late March/early April God declared,

“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).

January 1st is not the beginning of the year for the true God, but only of certain false gods.

Now perhaps it should be mentioned that other cultures also accept that the new year begins in the Spring. And while those cultures have various non-biblical practices, it is certainly possible that because God’s year begins in the Spring that perhaps anciently these people were aware of it, and retained the correct season, but not the practices.

Not all have followed the practices of Julius Caesar (called “Julie” below):

For some thousands of years before Julie and the Roman Senate got involved, the new year was celebrated with the first edible crops of the season or the first new moon.

In much of India, Nava Varsha is celebrated in March or April, just as in the most ancient civilizations.

Sikhs celebrate Hola Mohalla in March; ditto for Persian Nowruz.

As celebrated in China and southeast Asia, Lunar New Year still has a floating date, the first day of the first lunar month. (Shore R. Pagan Party: New Year’s traditions that hail from the depths of antiquity The Vancouver Sun, Canada – Dec 26, 2008, http://www.vancouversun.com/Pagan+Party+Year+traditions+that+hail+from+depths+antiquity/1116320/story.html viewed 01/22/09)

From a biblical perspective, the new year begins in the Spring, and hence not January 1st. And it also begins with a new moon. The fact that even many non-Christian cultures realize that should make it easier for Christians to realize that they too, do not need to heed the later practices of the Romans.

Some items of related interest may include:

Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world’s New Year’s day.
Canadian & Philadelphian Mummers Parades: Another tie to Saturnalia In Canada there is a ’12 days of Christmas’ celebration involving Mummers. In Philadelphia, a parade is held on New Years. Does this come from the Bible or where?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Is 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 of the Bible mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
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?
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival?
Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival?
Is Smoking a Sin? What does the Bible teach? What have COG leaders written? Can smokers change?
Binge Alcohol Drinking and the Bible Many college students and others overindulge in alcohol. Are there health risks? What does the Bible teach?
Obesity and Prophecy Does the Bible warn about the consequences of being obese? Is overeating dangerous? Is gluttony condemned?
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?

Today was really whose birthday?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014


Mithras, the sun god

COGwriter

Whose birthday is it today?

Multiple millions are observing a birthday today. While many believe that they are celebrating the birth of Jesus, the reality is that those who have looked into the biblical account realize that December 25th was not the date that Jesus was born. Scholars also realize that early Christians not only did not celebrate December 25th as Jesus’ birthday, early Christians and professors of Christ basically did not celebrate birthdays at all.

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church (Martindale C. Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

An Armenian scholar called Ananias of Shirak, circa 600 A.D., wrote:

The Festival of the holy Birth of Christ, on the 12th day before the feast of the Baptism, was not appointed by the holy apostles, nor by their successors either, as is clear from the canons of the holy apostles…But in the days of the holy Constantine, in the holy Council of Nice, this festival was not received by the holy fathers (Ananias of Shirak, On Christmas, The Expositor, 5th series vol. 4 (1896) Translation. pp.323-337, as reported by ccel).

Now, probably one to two centuries after Jesus was born, some heretics/apostates did have a celebration, but the widest recognized dates tended to be in the months of May or January.

So, why December 25 now?

The historical record suggests that December 25th was chosen for basically two reasons: Saturnalia and Emperor Constantine’s ties to Mithraism.

The historical record show that some who professed Christ wanted to keep the idolatrous festival of Saturnalia. This festival which included the December 25th date. About three centuries after Jesus died, certain apostate authorities used the date as a way to pretend that the pagans were observing a supposedly “Christian” holiday. But, since the Saturnalia was longer than one day, that only partially explains December 25th. And it does not explain why observers who profess Christ ignore various warnings in the Bible–which should be shown now.

Even Catholic and Protestant translations of the Bible clearly warn against mixing pagan idolatrous practices with the worship of the God of the Bible. This is proved by the following in both the New and Old Testaments:

15. And what agreement with Christ and Belial? or what part hath the faithful with the
infidel?
16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with Idols? For you are the temple of the
living God. as God saith, Then I will dwell, and walk in them, and will be their God: and
they shall be my people.
17. For the which cause, Go out of the midst of them, and separate yourselves. saith our
Lord, and touch not the unclean: and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:15-17, The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 1998, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2004, copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

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

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:15-17, NKJV)

2 ‘Do not learn the ways of the nations or take alarm at the heavenly signs, alarmed though the nations may be at them. 3 Yes, the customs of the peoples are quite futile: wood, nothing more, cut out of a forest, worked with a blade by a carver’s hand, 4 then embellished with silver and gold, then fastened with hammer and nails to keep it from moving. 5 Like scarecrows in a melon patch, they cannot talk, they have to be carried, since they cannot walk. Have no fear of them: they can do no harm — nor any good either!’… 11 ‘Tell them this, “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth will vanish from the earth and from under these heavens.” ‘ (Jeremiah 10:2-5,11, New Jerusalem Bible)

2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good…11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. (Jeremiah 10:2-5,11 KJV)

So unclean practices associated with idols are prohibited by God. Does not that include celebrating as the idolaters celebrate? Also, the above says not to be affected for worship from various signs in the heavens–this would seem to include the oft claim that there was possibly some type of a heavenly sign (like the “Star of Bethlehem”) in December of some year (I have seen such claims, and although there were certainly heavenly signs associated with Jesus’ actual birth, the “proofs” that I have tended to see by some who have claimed a December 25th date tend to miss the ACTUAL YEAR that Jesus was born).

Why, despite biblical warnings and the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25th and his original followers did not celebrate His birthday did December 25th get adopted?

Basically because of a combination of paganism and political compromise.

A specific birthday was celebrated on December 25th. This was the claimed birthday of the sun god Mithras (sometimes spelled Mithra; see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. It entered Europe from Asia Minor after Alexander’s conquest, spread rapidly over the whole Roman Empire at the beginning of our era, reached its zenith during the third century, and vanished under the repressive regulations of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century…Helios Mithras is one god…Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen. J.P. Transcribed by John Looby. Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Natalis Invicti. The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont’s epoch-making “Textes et Monuments” etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355…The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cypr., “De pasch. Comp.”, xix, “O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus.” – “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born.”… (Martindale C. Christmas, 1908).

The World Book Encyclopedia notes,

In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun (Sechrist E.H. Christmas. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 3. Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1966, pp. 408-417).

It needs to be understood that some scholarly sources believe that the celebration in Rome of Christmas may have began 2-3 decades earlier (by Constantine), but none I am aware of suggest it was prior Constantine in the fourth century.

Although he is called “the Great” by the Catholics of Rome and a “saint” by the Eastern Orthodox, Emperor Constantine was a follower of the sun god Mithras. And while some claim that he “converted” to “Christianity” after seeing a cross in the sky, having a vision of Jesus, and winning the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D. (Milvian Bridge Day, Constantine, and St. Jude ), notice a coin he had produced in 317 A.D.:

Constantine Coin Honoring Sun God

So, the image of Emperor Constantine is on one side of the coin and the image of the sun god Mithras is on the other side of the coin. Emperor Constantine greatly influenced the religion of the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics and to this day, many aspects of Mithraism are incorporated into their respective faiths, as well as those of most Protestants.

Why Mithras?

Basically, the sun-worshiping Roman Emperor Constantine was a follower of Mithras. But that religion has problems:

Mithraism was destined by its very nature to be, not a world- religion like Christianity, but the exclusive cult of a restricted number of worshippers. A religion that rigidly excluded all women from participation in its worship, that restricted the initiates to such men alone as had the courage and the power of physical endurance to undergo its severe tests, that celebrated its ritual in underground temples absolutely hidden from public gaze, such a religion was never meant, and was never fit, to become the religion of a nation. (Aiken C.F., Mithraism and Christianity, p. 387)

Women, being 1/2 the population and necessary for the continuance of humanity, could not be excluded from a faith for an empire to do well, so something had to be done.

Yet, Mithraism itself also had a certain appeal to the Emperor as the Catholic scholar C. Aiken noted:

Mithraism was first and foremost a military cult, brought to these regions by foreign Mithra-worshippers, who along with other orientals were enlisted in the Roman army and stationed in the numerous camps that dotted the extensive frontier on the North. Some of the Roman soldiers, even centurions and higher officers, became initiated in the mysteries of the victorious light-god, and when afterwards they were sent to different parts of the empire (Aiken C.F., Mithraism, p. 255)

Now originally, virtually none who professed Christ would participate in military service. But by blending aspects of Mithraism with the profession of Christianity, Emperor Constantine was able to produce a faith that he felt would provide his empire the type of military might that he wanted (Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?).

Because of that, many associated with Mithraism professed his “Constantinian Christianity,” and since they had such strong ties to Mithras, it was determined that to declare that Jesus was to be worshiped then would keep them as part of that compromised faith (Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Are Pagan Practices Knowingly Still Going on Today?

Certainly, December 25th contains a lot of pagan practices. Here are some mentioned in The Catholic Encyclopedia and the Vatican:

Cards and presents. Pagan customs centering round the January calends gravitated to Christmas…

The yule log. The calend fires were a scandal even to Rome, and St. Boniface obtained from Pope Zachary their abolition (Martindale C. Christmas, 1908).

Vatican paper disfavours Santa Claus

Rome, Dec. 22: Sant Claus, and Christmas trees, have been condemned in an editorial in the Vatican weekly newspaper, “L’Osservatore della Domenica.” The editorial describes Santa Claus as a “monstrous substitute” for the Christ Child, and says that the idea of Santa “is offensive to the faith” and “will not and must not be accepted or tolerated by Christians.” The use of Christmas trees — which have only recently become a part of the Italian Christmas — is condemned as “an attempt to substitute the Crib ….. with a certain feeling of naturalism and paganism.” (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/dc50/vatican-paper-disfavours-santa-claus-684)

In addition to adopting pagan practices associated with the Saturnalia such as gift giving, parties, and wreaths, Christmas’ date comes from the pagan beliefs about the sun god Mithras. Furthermore, even today, many will be visiting Bethlehem in order to see the so-called Church of the Nativity. This is built above a below ground cave.

Jesus was not born in that below ground cave location as that would not be a place that animals could get into and out of on a regular basis. So, who supposed was born in a below ground cave/grotto? Yes, the sun god Mithras. And it may be that because of this, Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena may have been interested in believing that Jesus too was born in a similar location (despite the fact that this goes against the biblical account) and she tended to accept the outside of Bethlehem cave location as the place of Jesus’ birth (note: there were other apostates prior to Helena and some of them helped, at least indirectly, “set this up,” see also Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity?).

Even today the cave location is revered not only in Bethlehem, but there is normally a public display of a cave in Vatican City.

Place of Jesus Birth?Representation of Cave Grotto, Vatican City, January 2010
(Photo by Joyce Thiel)

So, sadly, while many hope that they are observing a Christian celebration today, in reality they are observing a date that was chosen because of pagan influence and political compromise.

And while most who do so feel justified in their own minds, notice what Jesus taught:

24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)

The the truth is that Jesus was not born on December 25th. The date and many of its observances are clearly of pagan origin.

But, what about tradition? Well, Christmas simply was not an apostolic tradition, but a compromise. Jesus addressed this when He was in the flesh:

“3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” — 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:3-9)

But, again, many ignore that.

Do you really believe the Bible or are you more comfortable with paganism and traditions of men?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god?
How did December 25th become Christmas? Was Jesus born then? If not, why December 25? Here is the article translated into Mandarin Chinese 12月25日最后是怎么被许多基督的信仰者采纳的.
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity? Was Jesus born in a below ground cave? Was Jesus born below the “Church of the Nativity”? Were the wise men there?
Is Keeping Christmas a Sin? Is keeping Christmas acceptable for true Christians? What are some scriptures to consider?
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
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.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. A related sermon link would be Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?