Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

NCR: Would Jesus Recognize Catholic Worship?

Saturday, November 17th, 2018


Pope Benedict XVI with Eucharist Host during Mass (Fabio Pozzebom/ABr)

COGwriter

The National Catholic Register reported the following:

Would Jesus Recognize Catholic Worship?

“It is in this eternal liturgy that the Spirit and the Church enable us to participate whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation in the sacraments.” (CCC 1139)

You’ve seen pictures of splendid traditional Catholic worship. The clergy and servers are robed, the incense is billowing, the church building is magnificent. Would Jesus recognize such worship? …

They used set prayers and established readings as Catholics do with their liturgy and tables of readings. Furthermore, the worship of the “domestic church” for Jews was structured around seasons and feasts. Throughout the year, as Catholics do, they celebrated certain feast days and fast days. …

So would Jesus recognize the Catholic worship that goes on in the great cathedrals and Catholic churches? There are clearly differences between Catholic and Jewish worship, but think of the things Jesus would recognize … what we can glean from the Bible about Jewish worship — both in the Old Testament and from the Book of Revelation (where the worship of heaven is pictured) — all looks far more like a traditional Catholic Mass than the bare preaching rooms and long Bible lectures of the Protestants. 11/15/18 http://www.ncregister.com/blog/longenecker/would-jesus-recognize-catholic-worship

The above has several points that I would like to address.

First of all, the Church of Rome does NOT have an eternal liturgy, because their own scholars admit that they changed it from the original.

Notice some comments from a Roman Catholic writer:

If you could travel in time and attend a Christian worship service in the first century, what would it be like? Would a Presbyterian feel at home? How about a Catholic? The following is a re-recording of a lecture I gave to a group in Charlotte, NC last year on the subject of “liturgy in the first century.” With the current lead article on Holy Orders and the nature of the priesthood, it is relevant to explore the subject of early Christian worship. To determine what sort of leaders the early Christians had, it helps to understand what sort of action the early Christians understood as right worship. The historical evidence bears witness that the early Christian liturgy was not compatible with Protestant theology …

The primary points of contact for our knowledge of the first century liturgy lie on one end with the Jewish liturgies, and the little data which can be gleaned from the New Testament, and the far later, but well documented, fourth century liturgies. We do have a few texts, reliable but vague, from the second and third century that help us piece together the puzzle. But ultimately our study lies in drawing on what we know from these ends, and reconstructing the development in-between. …

The Judeo-Centricity of Early Christianity

  1. For about the first 10 years of Christianity, it was almost exclusively composed of Jewish converts.
  2. The early Christians were in the habit of attending temple ..
  3. The early Christians continued celebrating in the Synagogues alongside the Jews on the Sabbath for several years in some places.
  4. Up to nineteen years after Christ’s resurrection, new converts to Christianity, generally speaking, had to convert to Judaism before becoming Christian. Namely, they were to be circumcised, to eat Kosher, and to follow the Mosaic Law…

Synaxis‘ is the Greek word meaning “meeting” and is the organic continuity of the Saturday Synagogue worship. When the Christians were no longer allowed in the synagogues, they continued celebrating approximately the same rite with added Christian developments and themes. The original liturgies would have been held, like the synagogue service, in Hebrew, and some of the words, like “amen” and “hallelujah,” survive to this day. In the early part of the first century, it is unlikely that the Synaxis would have be recognizably different from the Synagogue service except for the setting. …

Basic Structure

  1. Greeting and Response (The Lord be with you – or Peace be unto you)
  2. Lections & Psalmody (The Jews read in order of descending importance, starting with the Pentateuch. The early Christian kept the original order of the Synagogue, but as Christian Scripture became available, it was tacked on at the end. Thus the order of importance became reversed for Christians. They read in ascending order of importance)
    i. Old Testament Reading
    ii. Pslamody (or chanted Psalm)
    iii. New Testament Reading (sometimes included non-canonical books like 1 Clement)
    iv. Psalmody
    v. Gospel Reading
  3. Homily (Bishop delivers while seated)
  4. Dismissal of Catechumens by Deacon
  5. Intercessory Prayers of the Faithful
  6. Dismissal of the Faithful

Occasionally a collection would be taken for the poor at the end. …

By the end of the first century, the standard Christian liturgical observations would be as follows. On Saturday, you would attend the Synaxis. (Troutman TA. Christian Worship in the First Century. June 17, 2010. © 2017 Called to Communion. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/06/christian-worship-in-the-first-century/#footnote_2_5127 accessed 01/01/17)

Secondly, it should also be emphasized that the Holy Days and festival seasons that early Christians observed did NOT include Easter, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, ‘Mary’ days, ‘saints’ days, etc. They observed biblical holy days like the Jews did, but with a Christian understanding of how Jesus fulfilled Passover and the Holy Spirit Pentecost and how God’s plan would fulfill the others. For some details, check out the free online booklet: Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?

Third, what is done for Catholic liturgy was not part of the original faith according to the The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Liturgy (leitourgia) is a Greek composite word meaning originally a public duty, a service to the state undertaken by a citizen. Its elements are leitos (from leos = laos, people) meaning public, and ergo (obsolete in the present stem, used in future erxo, etc.), to do. From this we have leitourgos, “a man who performs a public duty”, “a public servant”, often used as equivalent to the Roman lictor; then leitourgeo, “to do such a duty”, leitourgema, its performance, and leitourgia, the public duty itself.

it must be said that an Apostolic Liturgy in the sense of an arrangement of prayers and ceremonies, like our present ritual of the Mass, did not exist. …

But we find much more than this essential nucleus in use in every Church from the first century… first a synagogue service Christianized, in which the holy books were read, psalms were sung, prayers said by the bishop in the name of all (the people answering “Amen” in Hebrew, as had their Jewish forefathers), and homilies, explanations of what had been read, were made by the bishop or priests, just as they had been made in the synagogues by the learned men and elders (e.g., Luke 4:16-27). …

For the first period we have of course no complete description. ,,,

From about the fourth century our knowledge of the Liturgy increases enormously. We are no longer dependent on casual references to it: we have definite rites fully developed. …

Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch are the old patriarchal cities. As the other bishops accepted the jurisdiction of these three patriarchs, so did they imitate their services. The Liturgy, as it crystallized in these centres, became the type for the other Churches of their patriarchates. Only Gaul and northwest Europe generally, though part of the Roman Patriarchate, kept its own rite till the seventh and eighth centuries.

Alexandria and Antioch are the starting-points of the two original Eastern rites. The earliest form of the Antiochene Rite is that of the “Apostolic Constitutions” written down in the early fifth century. ,,,

In any case the old Roman Rite is not exactly that now used. Our Roman Missal has received considerable additions from Gallican sources. The original rite was simpler, more austere, had practically no ritual beyond the most necessary actions (see Bishop, “The Genius of the Roman Rite” in “Essays on Ceremonial”, edited by Vernon Staley, London, 1904, pp. 283-307). …

Rome

  1. The original Roman Rite, not now used.

(Fortescue, Adrian. “Liturgy.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910)

So, it is clearly taught that what the Church of Rome now practices as liturgy was NOT the original as it is admitted that “our present ritual of the Mass, did not exist.” Essentially, compromises with semi-Gnostics, apostates like Justin Martyr and Marcus, and the adoption of various practices that were associated with Mithraism. ended up with the type of liturgies that many are now familiar with.

Fourthly, when you go into a Catholic church or cathedral, it is filled with statues and icons. That was not something that early Christians tolerated, nor was this allowed in synagogues that Jesus would have visited (see also What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?).

Fifthly, while the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1139) has claimed the liturgy is eternal, last year it was reported that the Vatican again was pushing certain liturgical changes:

Pope invokes ‘magisterial authority’ to declare liturgy changes ‘irreversible’

ROME – Addressing a group of liturgical experts on Thursday, Pope Francis said that after the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and a long path of experience, “We can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

The declaration came in a speech on Thursday to Italy’s “Center of Liturgical Action,” which sponsors an annual National Liturgical Week.

By “liturgical reform,” Pope Francis meant the changes in Catholic rituals and modes of worship which followed from Vatican II, the most immediately visible elements of which included Mass facing the congregation …

Battles over liturgical practice have been a chronic feature of Catholic life since Vatican II.

A desire to maintain the older Latin Mass, for instance, was a primary force prompting French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to lead a group of traditionalist Catholics into a break with Rome. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/08/24/pope-invokes-magisterial-authority-declare-liturgy-changes-irreversible/

And of course, the current mass and the “old Latin Mass” are not original Christian practices. Early Christian church services were in Greek or Aramaic/Hebrew, not Latin. Jesus would not have attended a synagogue where services were in Latin. Tertullian, the so-called “father of Latin theology” did not begin to write until around 190 A.D.–Latin was a change.

Sixthly, in Catholic ‘mass’ Jesus is supposedly sacrificed every time it is held. Yet, the Bible is clear that Jesus only needed to be sacrificed once:

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

Although Jesus wanted His followers to have an annual memorial of His death (called Passover), Jesus does not need to be ‘re-sacrificed’ weekly or daily (Catholic priests are expected to do this through the Mass ritual each and every day).

Furthermore, as far as the use of a round host goes, early Christians did not use one. A careful comparison of what is taught in the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church along with eucharistic practices should make this clear to any truly interested in the truth.

Article 3, under the Seven Sacraments of the Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the eucharist. Section II asks and answers the question, What is this Sacrament Called? Several names are listed, including “The Breaking of Bread” (#1329).

It also states the following:

1339 Jesus choose the time of the Passover … And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them … (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 373)

Now the above is scriptural. Here are some related scriptures from Catholic translations of the Bible:

19 And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the pasch.

26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. (Matthew 26:19,26 Douay-Rheims)

22 And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. (Mark 14:22, Douay-Rheims)

19 And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. (Luke 22:19, Douay-Rheims)

Notice, it is very clear that Jesus BROKE the bread on Passover (Pasch means Passover).

The Apostle Paul confirmed that it was the practice of the early Christians to break bread:

16 The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? (1 Corinthians 10:16, Douay-Rheims).

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.

24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Douay-Rheims)

The Apostle Paul followed Jesus’ practice and broke bread. Furthermore, notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches in its article “Host”:

…the first Christians…simply used the bread that served as food. It seems that the form differed but little from what it is in our day. The loaves discovered in an oven of a bakery at Pompeii weighed about a pound each. One of these, being perfectly preserved, measured about seven inches in diameter and was creased with seven ridges which facilitated the breaking of the loaf without the aid of a knife. (Leclercq, Henri. “Host.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07489d.htm>)

Notice that the article in The Catholic Encyclopedia basically says that the practice of the first Christians, which is consistent with the Bible, was to use normal loaves of bread that resemble what is still in use today. And that it was broken. (The article never says where the round host actually came from, other than it was first mentioned in writing in the fourth century by Epiphanius and that earlier paintings in catacombs and bas-reliefs showed something like that. But I should state that the oldest early painting in a catacomb I am aware of has a woman, Priscilla, presiding over the ceremony, so the Church of Rome may wish to be careful about relying on that as they do not allow women to do that. Hence, the earliest picture of the eucharist host did not come from what is practiced in today’s Roman Catholicism–so the question from whence the Catholics adopted it remains.)

Thus, to have a Passover/eucharistic ceremony where the bread is not broken is certainly not imitating Jesus, the Apostle Paul, nor the early Christians. It is a change that the Church of Rome must have gotten outside of the Bible.

Yet, in the eucharistic ceremonies in the Catholic Church, the bread is not broken. Instead, it is a round host that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says can/should be worshipped and adored (CCC #1378, p. 385). Yet, there is no indication that the early Christians or the apostles did anything like that.

They basically taught that it was to be eaten.

Worshipers of sun-gods worshiped round symbols. Early Christians did not.

Many practices associated with sun-god worship, specifically Mithraism were adopted by the Church of Rome. Notice the following report from the Catholic scholar F. Cumont (bolding mine):

The priest was the intermediary between God and man. His functions evidently included the administration of the sacraments and the celebration of the services. The inscriptions tell us that in addition he presided at the formal dedications, or at least represented the faithful one on such an occasion along with the Fathers; but this was the least portion only of the duties he had to perform; the religious service which fell to his lot appears to have been very exacting. He doubtless was compelled to see that a perpetual fire burned upon the altars. Three times a day, at dawn, at noon, and at dusk, he addressed a prayer to the Sun, turning in the morning toward the East, at noon toward the South, at evening toward the West. The daily liturgy frequently embraced special sacrifices.

the orthodox and heretical liturgies of Christianity, which gradually sprang up during the first centuries of our era, could find abundant inspiration in the Mithraic Mysteries… it appears certain that the commemoration of the Nativity was set for the 25th of December, because it was at the winter solstice that the rebirth of the invincible god,* the Natalis invicti, was celebrated. In adopting this date, which was universally distinguished by sacred festivities, the ecclesiastical authority purified in some measure the profane usages which it could not suppress. The only domain in which we can ascertain in detail the extent to which Christianity imitated Mithraism is that of art. The Mithraic sculpture, which had been first developed, furnished the ancient Christian marble-cutters with a large number of models, which they adopted or adapted…(Cumont, pp. 166, 193,196-197).

Many of the doctrines and practices mentioned above were NOT held by the original Christians. For articles related to them, please see Do You Practice Mithraism?, Sunday and Christianity, What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?, Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?, and What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?

Cannot those who claim to be Catholic traditionalists see this? There are also ties with Egyptian pagan gods, etc. with the round host. For some details, check out Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist?

Seventhly, yes, there are problems with Protestant liturgy. Some because they are too close to the liturgies of the Church of Rome, others because they added other non-biblical practices, and all as they fail to teach the full truth of the Bible, God’s plan of salvation, and the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

As far as church liturgy goes, according to Roman Catholic writers, the Church of Rome does not follow the practices of the early Christians–nor do the Protestants. For details, check out the article What was the Liturgy of the Early Church?

Actually, it is groups like the Continuing Church of God who have church services, also known as liturgical practices, that are most consistent with those of the early Christians (watch What were early Christian church services like?).

The Church of Rome has implemented changes which were not part of “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Speaking of changes, last year Roman Catholic bishops declared a new ‘sin.’ Notice the following:

Reading a letter on behalf of the bishops to congregants after a church service at St. James Catholic church in Emerald Hill, Harare on Aug. 20, Father Rungano Muchineripi said it is a sin not to vote, AllAfrica.com reported

“Men and women of God are getting tired of praying for issues to do with politics and the suffering of people due to bad governance, so it is high time Christians put their efforts together in registering to vote, choosing a people oriented government which is not evil.

“It is your responsibility to choose a government of your choice that gives you rights. People have a constitutional right to vote and it is a sin not to vote,” Rungano said.

A staunch critic of the ruling Zanu-PF party, which ruled uninterrupted since independence in 1980, Rungano said that parents should make sure that children who are 17 years old and will be 18 next year are registered too as voters. 08/24/17 http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/zimbabwes-catholic-bishops-say-its-a-sin-not-to-vote-urge-people-to-eject-ruling-party/60405.htm

As one who grew up in a Roman Catholic household, let me state that I was never taught that not voting was a sin. This is another political, not biblical, decision that is coming from a Roman Catholic bishop. The Bible warns of a religious system, based on the city of seven hills, that is too involved in politics of this world in Revelation 17. The Bible gives it the title of “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5).

We in the Continuing Church of God do not endorse political involvement like voting (see Should a Christian Vote?).

Anyway, there are more liturgical issues that the Church of Rome has (see What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? and/or watch What were early Christian church services like?).

As far as other doctrinal changes and which church holds to the original faith, check out the documented article: Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? Were early church services mainly scriptural, emotional, or sacramental? Who follows the basic original liturgy today? A related video is also available: What were early Christian church services like?
Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria? Where did IHS and the host come from?
Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did the early Church use icons? What was the position of Christians about such things? A related sermon is available: The Second Commandment, Idols, and Icons.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Should a Christian Vote? This article gives some of the Biblical rationale on this subject. Would Jesus vote for president/prime minister? Is voting in the Bible? This is a subject Christians need to understand. A video of related interest is available titled: Should Christians Vote?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware!
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
Laudato Si: Pope’s Agenda or Kingdom of God? Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical is titled ‘Laudato Si.’ In it, he goes over his views related to environmental, economic, social, moral, agricultural, and spiritual issues. He advocates international cooperation to solve various problems he believes are affecting humanity. Is that Pope’s agenda the solution? What about the Kingdom of God? does the Bible teach? Two related articles include Laudato Si: Will Pope Francis’ economic actions match his words? and Laudato Si: A call for a one-world government?
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?
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.
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?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Has your church been affected by ‘Gregory the Wonder Worker’?

Friday, November 16th, 2018


Eastern Orthodox Rendering of Gregory Thaumaturgus

COGWriter

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

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

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

Related to Gregory, Roberts and Donaldson reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, please check out the following:

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.
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! provides concerned Christians with enough Catholic-documented facts to effectively counter every false Marian argument.
Fatima Shock! YouTube Dr. Thiel highlights a few points of why no one would support Fatima, etc. as discussed in the documented book Fatima Shock!
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD. A related sermon is available: Trinity: Fundamental to Christianity or Something Else? A brief video is also available: Three trinitarian scriptures?
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui? Here is a link to a short animation: Which Church would Jesus Choose?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and E

Priscilla and Aquila

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

COGwriter

Priscilla and Aquila were apparently early converts to Christianity, and must have worked together. I have listed Priscilla (also called Prisca) first, as the Bible twice lists her first. This is not to say that she was necessarily superior to her husband Aquila, but since the Bible gives her that honor as often as it gives it to her husband, I thought I would also list her first.

Luke records that Priscilla and her husband Aquila were from Rome and shared the same occupation as the Apostle Paul:

After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3, NKJV throughout).

So when Paul met Priscilla and Aquila, they were living in Corinth as it was unsafe for them to have stayed in Rome at that time.

Priscilla and Aquila were quite well versed in early Christian doctrine as God used them to help Apollo:

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).

Apparently, after being with Paul for a while, they returned to Rome. They were also apparently quite brave and also had church services in their home in Rome:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Romans 16:3-5).

When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, they still had church services in their home, and they apparently continued to support Paul, as he wrote:

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Later, they apparently moved again. In his letter to Timothy, who was then in Ephesus, Paul wrote:

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 4:19).

So, near the end of Paul’s life, they became part of the true church in Ephesus.

Priscilla and Aquila were a married couple who were also tentmakers. They knew and supported Paul, knew and taught Apollo, and also knew Timothy.

Although originally from Rome, they traveled extensively. The fact that they had church services in their house in Rome when Paul wrote two of his letters seems to suggest that the early church in Rome was not particularly large. July 8th is observed in honor of Priscilla and Aquila by some associated with the Greco-Roman churches.

Some items of possibly-related interest may include:

Priscilla and Aquila An early Christian married couple from Rome who moved to Asia Minor.
Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here is a related sermon titled: New Testament Women.
True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? Is there still a place for being feminine? Here is an article from Herbert Armstrong about his thoughts relating to women and womanhood.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups that 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? A related sermon is also available Christianity: Two groups.

Souls in Purgatory?

Monday, November 5th, 2018


Artist’s portrayal of Purgatory

COGwriter

A Catholic source posted the following:

November draws us to the souls in purgatory – a place Our Lady of Fatima confirmed

November is the month traditionally associated with the Holy Souls in purgatory. The feast day associated with them, the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, “All Souls Day,” falls on Nov. 2 just after All Saints Day, which commemorates all those in heaven. On Nov. 2, we are particularly encouraged to pray for our departed relatives and friends who are waiting patiently to enter heaven, but we can also pray for them all through November, and indeed at any other time of the year.

Some people have tended to ignore or downplay purgatory, but when Our Lady appeared at Fatima she explicitly mentioned it during her very first apparition on May 13, 1917. After telling the children she was from heaven, she promised Lucia and Jacinta that they would go to heaven, and Francisco too, but that he would have to say many rosaries. Then Lucia asked about two girls who had died, friends of hers who used to come to her house to learn weaving.

She asked if one of them, Maria das Neves, was in heaven, and was told, “Yes, she is.” Lucia noted that she was about 16 years old. Then she asked about her other friend, Amelia, who was between 18 and 20 years old. To this question, Our Lady said: “She will be in purgatory until the end of the world.” https://wafusa.org/november-draws-us-to-the-souls-in-purgatory-a-place-our-lady-of-fatima-confirmed/

Before going further, a Catholic saint named Anne Emmerich also claimed to see purgatory and limbo. Despite her being a Catholic saint, Pope Benedict XVI essentially denied the doctrine of limbo.

As far as the Lady of Fatima goes, she made many false statements, including those that constitute a false gospel (see also Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions).

Let it also be stated that there are no holidays enjoined in the Bible for October 31, November 1 or November 2 (see Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?). November does NOT draw real Christians “to the souls in purgatory.”

To determine if there is such as place as Purgatory, we should look at the Bible as well as the beliefs of early Christians.

The article quoted at the beginning of this post also has the following:

Jesus pointed to the importance of the soul when he said, in the words of the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible, “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

He also pointed to the existence of purgatory, when He said: “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”

This passage has been understood as indicating the necessity of ensuring we are purified before we die, otherwise the punishment due to our sins, even when they have been forgiven, will be exacted in purgatory.

The Catechism has this to say about purgatory: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)

But no early Christian believed that Mark 8 was a reference to purgatory.

Early Christians believed that God had a plan that would offer salvation to everyone, not called in this present Church age, at/after the white throne judgment–this was based upon sacred scripture (see Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). They believed in a doctrine that I have labeled as true apocatastasis. They believed that due to the judgment in Revelation 20:11-13, people would be offered salvation who had not previously rejected it. And as numerous previous quotes in this article will demonstrate, many objected to purgatory prior to the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Encyclopedia itself admits that early Christians did not teach its current concept of purgatory doctrine:

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainty of salvation to the last day…There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come”…(Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Early Christians, who understood the language that the Bible was written in, did NOT teach nor believe in purgatory–purgatory was NOT part of the original Christian faith.

The Catholic Encyclopedia correctly states:

The modern Orthodox Church denies purgatory…(Hanna, Edward J. Purgatory. Transcribed by William G. Bilton, Ph.D. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The Eastern Orthodox have long realized that there was no such place as purgatory. Do not be surprised in the future if the Church of Rome drops, or at least modifies, its position about purgatory (see also Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? (And the Protestants)).

Last November, it was reported that Pope Francis may not really believe in purgatory:

Christians asking is the pope still Catholic?

November 16, 2017

Is the pope Catholic?

It’s not a punch line.

It’s a question being asked about the current head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis, who critics believe is showing signs of abandoning fundamental Catholic doctrines – including the existence of hell.

In a recent address, Pope Francis declared “everything will be saved” upon Christ’s return.

“The thought that at the end of our history there will be merciful Jesus suffices in order to have faith and not to curse life,” the pope said. “Everything will be saved. Everything.”

That would suggest the church is opening up to “universalism,” the doctrine that everyone will ultimately be given salvation, according to Eugenio Scalfari, founder of the Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

Scalfari, a major Italian journalistic and cultural influence, believes Francis has “abolished the places where souls were supposed to go after death: hell, purgatory, heaven.”

Instead, the souls dominated by evil will “cease to exist.” The pope has also been accused of even warping the words of Scripture to make God appear less judgmental. …

Pastor Carl Gallups … agrees with Catholic dissidents that the pope has thrown the Catholic Church into confusion.

“Thus far, Pope Francis appears to have thrown the Catholic Church into further confusion since his reign. We are undoubtedly living in profoundly prophetic times. How people can miss this truth, right before our eyes every day, is beyond comprehension.” http://www.wnd.com/2017/11/christians-asking-is-the-pope-still-catholic/

Here is a link to a video: Popes Change on Limbo and Purgatory?

And even though he was not part of the true Church of God, notice what the Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant saint Justin wrote:

Justin also stated, “For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians” (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

While those of us in the Continuing Church of God would agree that souls die (Ezekiel 18:4) and are not taken to heaven upon death (Job:14:14; John 3:13), those in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches would seem to disagree with Justin here. His comments are also opposed to the idea of purgatory.

So what was taught in the second century?

Essentially after the judgment, it was believed that unsaved humans (those who did not become saints in this life) who did not knowingly reject God’s way of life would have 100 hundred years to live (in accordance with Isaiah 65:20) and that nearly all would then accept God’s offer of salvation. There was also nothing resembling All Saint’s Day nor All Souls’ Day taught by second century Christians, though some apostates may have kept pagan related practices (see also All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day).

In the late 4th century, Augustine started to come up with ideas that sound like modern purgatory. Eventually he and others challenged apocatastasis–which was an original Christian view. Notice that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that various early leaders taught apocatastasis, that Augustine and others challenged it, and that purification was associated with apocatastasis:

St. Gregory recurs to the same thought of the final annihilation of evil, in his “Oratio catechetica”, ch. xxvi; the same comparison of fire which purges gold of its impurities is to be found there; so also shall the power of God purge nature of that which is preternatural, namely, of evil. Such purification will be painful, as is a surgical operation, but the restoration will ultimately be complete. And, when this restoration shall have been accomplished (he eis to archaion apokatastasis ton nyn en kakia keimenon), all creation shall give thanks to God, both the souls which have had no need of purification, and those that shall have needed it…

The doctrine of the apokatastasis is not, indeed, peculiar to St. Gregory of Nyssa, but is taken from Origen…

It was through Origen that the Platonist doctrine of the apokatastasis passed to St. Gregory of Nyssa, and simultaneously to St. Jerome, at least during the time that St. Jerome was an Origenist.

From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned. St. Augustine protests more strongly than any other writer against an error so contrary to the doctrine of the necessity of grace…

We note, further, that the doctrine of the apokatastasis was held in the East, not only by St. Gregory of Nyssa, but also by St. Gregory of Nazianzus as well; “De seipso”, 566 (P.G., XXXVII, col. 1010) grace…

In any case, the doctrine was formally condemned in the first of the famous anathemas pronounced at the Council of Constantinople in 543: Ei tis ten teratode apokatastasis presbeuei anathema esto (Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus it appears that the protests of Augustine eventually led to the condemnation of the doctrine of apocatastasis but the retention of purging/purification within Roman circles. The Greek churches, however never abandoned apocatastasis nor did they ever adopt the Roman purgatory.

Yet, concerning purgatory, a Catholic bishop-approved article claimed:

Fundamentalists may be fond of saying the Catholic Church “invented” the doctrine of purgatory to make money, but they have difficulty saying just when. Most professional anti-Catholics—the ones who make their living attacking “Romanism”—seem to place the blame on Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from A.D. 590–604…

Whenever a date is set for the “invention” of purgatory, you can point to historical evidence to show the doctrine was in existence before that date. Besides, if at some point the doctrine was pulled out of a clerical hat, why does ecclesiastical history record no protest against it?

…where are the records of protests?

They don’t exist. There is no hint at all…

It is no wonder, then, that those who deny the existence of purgatory tend to touch upon only briefly the history of the belief…(Catholic Answers. Purgatory. NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004. IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827 permission to publish this work is hereby granted. +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004, http://www.catholic.com/library/Purgatory.asp viewed 12/23/07).

History indicates that the above assertions are not quite accurate.

First of all, there seems to be no records of any major protest about the millennial teaching being abandoned by both Jerome and Augustine, hence having limited records of protest does not prove something did not change (see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).

Secondly, history records that there was a condemnation of apocatastasis. Yet at that time, many Roman leaders realized that scripture did indicate that the opportunity for salvation did not clearly end at the first death.

Notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Certain Scriptural texts, e.g., I Cor. xv, 25-28, seem to extend to all rational beings the benefit of the Redemption, and Origen allows himself to be led also by the philosophical principle which he enunciates several times, without ever proving it, that the end is always like the beginning..The universal restoration (apokatastasis) follows necessarily from these principles (Prat F. Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. Origen and Origenism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” According to St. Isidore of Seville (Deord. creatur., c. xiv, n. 6) these words prove that in the next life “some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire.” St. Augustine also argues “that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come” (De Civ. Dei, XXI, xxiv). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix); St. Bede (commentary on this text); St. Bernard (Sermo lxvi in Cantic., n. 11) and other eminent theological writers (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

And if what Irenaeus and Origen taught earlier was not going to be doctrine, then the Romans figured that something needed to fill in. Hence came more discussion of purgatory and of its emergence within Roman pontifical circles.

Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life “will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames,” and he adds “that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life” (Ps. 3 poenit., n. 1) (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

This is quite different than what Origen taught, as Origen taught that somehow people would be purified on earth (which is consistent with the 100 year period referred to in this chapter, though Origen seems to refer to Zechariah 5) (Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VI, Chapter 26).

While it is clear that by the seventh century, purgatorial ideas were being taught, the idea was not taught so clearly to alienate the Greeks as they did not separate from the Romans until 1054 A.D. But those associated with the Churches of God quickly saw problems with it.

Not surprisingly, the book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma states that the Cathari and Waldenses (who preceded the Protestants by centuries) were amongst the earliest who were against the Roman teaching on purgatory:

The reality of purgatory was denied by the Cathari, the Waldenses (Ott L. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Nihil Obstat: Jeremiah j. O’Sullivan. Imprimatur: +Cornelius Ep. Corgagiensis ei Ap. Amd. Rossensis, 7 October 1954. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1974, p. 482).

Since purgatory is not a biblical reality, it would make sense that those with the true Church of God would oppose such concepts. Actually, the Waldensians considered purgatory to be a doctrine of Antichrist, and the following appears to be from the 12th century:

“Antichrist is a falsehood, or deceit varnished over with the semblance of truth, and of the righteousness of Christ and his spouse, yet in opposition to the way of truth, righteousness, faith, hope, charity, as well as to moral life. It is not any particular person ordained to any degree, or office, or ministry, but it is a system of falsehood, opposing itself to the truth, covering and adorning itself with a show of beauty and piety, yet very unsuitable to the church of Christ, as by the names, and offices, the Scriptures, and the sacraments, and various other things, may appear. The system of iniquity thus completed with its ministers, great and small, supported by those who are induced to follow it with an evil heart and blind-fold—this is the congregation, which, taken together, comprises what is called Antichrist or Babylon, the fourth beast, the whore, the man of sin, the son of perdition. His ministers are called false prophets, lying teachers, the ministers of darkness, the spirit of error, the apocalyptic whore, the mother of harlots, clouds without water, trees without leaves, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, wandering stars, Balaamites and Egyptians.

“He is termed Antichrist because being disguised under the names of Christ and of his church and faithful members, he oppugns the salvation which Christ wrought out, and which is truly administered in his church—and of which salvation believers participate by faith, hope, and charity. Thus he opposes the truth by the wisdom of this world, by false religion, by counterfeit holiness, by ecclesiastical power, by secular tyranny, and by the riches, honours, dignities, with the pleasures and delicacies of this world. It should therefore be carefully observed, that Antichrist could not come, without a concurrence of all these things, making up a system of hypocrisy and falsehood—these must be, the wise of this world, the religious orders, the pharisees, ministers, and doctors; the secular power, with the people of the world, all mingled together. For although Antichrist was conceived in the times of the apostles, he was then in his infancy, imperfect and unformed, rude, unshapen, and wanting utterance. He then wanted those hypocritical ministers and human ordinances, and the outward show of religious orders which he afterwards obtained. As he was destitute of riches and other endowments necessary to allure to himself ministers for his service, and to enable him to multiply, defend, and protect his adherents, so he also wanted the secular power to force others to forsake the truth and embrace falsehood. But growing up in his members, that is, in his blind and dissembling ministers, and in worldly subjects, he at length arrived at full maturity, when men, whose hearts were set upon this world, blind in the faith, multiplied in the church, and by the union of church and state, got the power of both into their hands.

“Christ never had an enemy like this; so able to pervert the way of truth into falsehood, insomuch that the true church, with her children, is trodden under foot. The worship that belongs alone to God he transfers to Antichrist himself—to the creature, male and female, deceased—to images, carcasses, and relics. The sacrament of the eucharist is converted into an object of adoration, and the worshipping of God alone is prohibited. He robs the Saviour of his merits, and the sufficiency of his grace in justification, regeneration, remission of sins, sanctification, establishment in the faith, and spiritual nourishment; ascribing all these things to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own *works, to the intercession of saints, and to the fire of purgatory. He seduces the people from Christ, drawing off their minds from seeking those blessings in him, by a lively faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and teaching his followers to expect them by the *will and pleasure and works of Antichrist. (A Treatise concerning Antichrist, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacraments” as shown in Jones, William. The history of the Christian church from the birth of Christ to the xviii. century, Volumes 1-2, 3rd edition. R.W. Pomeroy, 1832. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Feb 6, 2009, pp. 337-340)

In the thirteenth century, the famed Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote the following:

Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below… Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Appendix II, Article 1. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius eneralis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

Even though it taught purgatory, clearly the Roman Church did not have an absolutely clear position on purgatory in the 13th century. But Aquinas taught that purgatory would be quite painful:

I answer that, In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. With regard to both the least pain of Purgatory surpasses the greatest pain of this life…

Therefore it follows that the pain of Purgatory, both of loss and of sense, surpasses all the pains of this life (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Appendix I, Article 1.).

One Catholic scholar, E. Duffy, felt that in 1300 Pope Boniface VIII enriched the Church of Rome through the granting of a particular indulgence to the masses:

Boniface is a mysterious man, proud, ambitious fierce…It was Boniface who declared the first Jubilee or Holy Year in 1300, when tens of thousands of pilgrims converged on Rome to gain indulgences, adding enormously to the prestige of the papacy…(and in the process enriching the Roman basilicas, where the sacristans were said to have had to scoop in pilgrim offerings with rakes). This promise of ‘full and copious pardon’ to all who visited Peter and the Lateran after confessing their sins was the most spectacular exercise of power of the keys since Urban II issued the first Crusade Indulgence… Boniface…displayed some of the worst traits of clerical careerism, enriching his relatives at the expense of the Church, and waging a relentless was against family’s traditional rivals (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p. 160).

Indulgences are granted to allegedly reduce time in purgatory. Vatican coffers have received a lot of money from people who give donations to have priests pray for themselves or loved ones to hopefully have less time in purgatory.

Interestingly, when the Catholic Inquisitor Bishop Bernard Guidonis was disposing of those the Catholics refer to as heretics in the 14th century, he noted that some believed the following:

Again, they say that after Antichrist’s death these spiritual individuals will convert the entire world to the faith of Christ; and the whole world will be so good and benign that there will be no malice or sin in people of that period, except perhaps for venial sins in a few of them; and all things will be common as far as use is concerned; and there will be no one who offends anyone else or encourages another to sin. For there will be the greatest love among them, and there will be one flock and one pastor. According to some of them this period and condition will last for one hundred years. Then, as love fails, malice will creep back in and slowly increase until Christ is, as it were, compelled to come in universal judgment because of it (Gui B. From the Inquisitor’s Manual of Bernard Gui [d.1331], Chapter 5. Early 14th century, translated in J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905).

Thus, the idea that the Church of God long has taught, that God would offer salvation to all, is apparently documented, not only in the pages of the Bible, but through some of the writings of its enemies.

Also notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The doctrine of apokatastasis viewed as a belief in a universal salvation is found among the Anabaptists…(Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Universal salvation, it should be pointed out in this context, is not that God will save everyone, but that God will truly offer salvation to everyone who ever lived (see Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

Partially because of objections from the Protestant reformers, the Roman Catholics called together the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, to define certain doctrines. Here is how it defined the purgatory doctrine:

“Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful” (Denzinger, “Enchiridon”, 983) (Hanna. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

The more modern Catechism of the Catholic Church, while claiming it had roots in tradition, admits that purgatory was not clearly defined until two separate councils in the Middle Ages. Notice what it teaches:

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect…The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent…This teaching is also based on…Sacred Scripture…Maccabeus…

The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them…Let us not hesitate to help those that have died…(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1031,1032, p. 291).

It should be clear that early Christians in the first and second century simply did not believe or teach the doctrine of purgatory.

The Church of God originally taught apocatastasis, not purgatory. And still does so today. God is a God of love and does have a merciful plan of salvation–and it includes getting the gospel out in this age (Note: The “short work” that Paul speaks of in Romans 9:28 and the completion of Matthew 24:14 will likely include massive news coverage of what the most faithful flock is teaching. This, of course, does not mean that the most faithful should sit around and wait and not do their part–cf. John 9:4; Matthew 9:37-38–as the priority of proclaiming the gospel remains). Of course, people should respond once they learn–those who reject the truth are risking committing the unpardonable sin.

Yet, God has always had a plan for the unsaved and those who did not truly ever understand His loving plan, it is revealed in scripture, and while there is an “age to come,” it is not the same as the relatively modern idea of purgatory.

Some items for further inquiry may include:

Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
Waldensian Treatise on Antichrist These are translated extracts from a likely 13th/14th century paper titled A Treatise concerning Antichrist, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacraments.
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies? Here is a link to the video: Popes Change on Limbo and Purgatory?
Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? Here are some historical and biblical insight on this question. There are many cultures that have celebrations and observances that are similar to some associated with Halloween. What did the Druids do? Is Halloween one of the most important holidays for Satanists? Do the Japanese, Indians, and Chinese have any practices that are similar to some associated with Halloween? Does the Bible endorse or condemn practices that are associated with Halloween? Here are links to two related sermonette length videos: Halloween: Are there 7 reasons for Christians to celebrate it? and International ‘Halloween’ Should Christians observe Halloween?
All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day When did “All Saints Day” and the “Day of the Dead” begin? “What about All Soul’s Day”?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy. Here is a link to a sermon video: Why Learn About Fatima?
Fatima and the ‘Miracle’ of the Sun On October 13, 1917, tens of thousands of people witnessed what they considered to be a miracle in the sky in Fatima, Portugal. Was this a miracle from God? Can you be certain? A video of some related interest is Fatima and Pope Francis. Here is a link to the sermon: Fatima and the ‘Miracle of the Sun’.
What is the Gospel? True religion should be based upon the true gospel. What are some of the different gospels and where did they come from? Do you believe the true or a false gospel? Who is preaching the gospel? Here is a version in Korean ¼õÇLÇt·€ »4ÅÇÇx¬?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermons Why Teach the Kingdom of God, The Gospel of the Kingdom, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Mystery of Iniquity What is the mystery of iniquity? How did it start? How will it end? Two related sermons are also available: The Mystery of Iniquity and The Mystery of Lawlessness.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]. A sermon is also available: How Does the Church of God Differ from Protestantism?
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.
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it? Here is a link to a related sermon video The Unpardonable Sin and the Prodigal Son. Here is a link to a shorter video The ‘Unpardonable Sin’ and ‘Climate Change’?

All Saints, All Souls, Day of the Dead?

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

COGwriter

Today is observed by many as All Saints Day, and tomorrow as All Souls’ Day.

All Souls’ Day is basically a Catholic, and not a biblical, holiday and is endorsed by the Church of Rome:

ALL SOULS Day. A solemn commemoration of, and prayer for, all the souls in Purgatory, which the Church makes on the second of November. (Addis W, Arnold T. Catholic Dictionary, 6th ed. The Catholic Publication Society Co, 1887. Nihil Obstat. EDUARDUS S. KEOGH, CONG. ORAT., Censor Deputatu Imprimatur. HENRICUS EDUARDUS, CARD. ARCHIEP. WESTMONAST. Die 18 Dec., 1883. Imprimatur. John Card. McCloskey, Archbishop of New York. Feb. 14, 1884. Copyright, Lawrence Kehoe, 1884/1887. p20)

Here is what The Catholic Encyclopedia reports about it and a related practice:

All Soul’s Day

The commemoration of all the faithful departed is celebrated by the Church on 2 November, or, if this be a Sunday or a solemnity, on 3 November. The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy and all the Masses are to be of Requiem, except one of the current feast, where this is of obligation.

The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, almsdeeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass. (See PURGATORY.)

In the early days of Christianity the names of the departed brethren were entered in the diptychs. Later, in the sixth century, it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of the deceased members at Whitsuntide. In Spain there was such a day on Saturday before Sexagesima or before Pentecost, at the time of St. Isidore (d. 636). In Germany there existed (according to the testimony of Widukind, Abbot of Corvey, c. 980) a time-honoured ceremony of praying to the dead on 1 October. This was accepted and sanctified by the Church. St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to be held annually in the monasteries of his congregation. Thence it spread among the other congregations of the Benedictines and among the Carthusians.

Of the dioceses, Liège was the first to adopt it under Bishop Notger (d. 1008). It is then found in the martyrology of St. Protadius of Besançon (1053-66). Bishop Otricus (1120-25) introduced it into Milan for the 15 October. In Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, priests on this day say three Masses. A similar concession for the entire world was asked of Pope Leo XIII. He would not grant the favour but ordered a special Requiem on Sunday, 30 September, 1888.

In the Greek Rite this commemoration is held on the eve of Sexagesima Sunday, or on the eve of Pentecost. The Armenians celebrate the passover of the dead on the day after Easter. (Mershman, Francis. “All Souls’ Day.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 6 Aug. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01315b.htm>)

A diptych is a sort of notebook…The liturgical use of diptychs offers considerable interest. In the early Christian ages it was customary to write on diptychs the names of those, living or dead, who were considered as members of the Church a signal evidence of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Hence the terms “diptychs of the living” and “diptychs of the dead.” Such liturgical diptychs varied in shape and dimension. Their use (sacrae tabulae, matriculae, libri vivorum et mortuorum) is attested in the writings of St. Cyprian (third century) and by the history of St. John Chrysostom (fourth century), nor did they disappear from the churches until the twelfth century in the West and the fourteenth century in the East. (Maere, René. “Diptych.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 6 Aug. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05022a.htm>)

So, from the above we see that All Souls’ Day is not part of original Christianity and the date has varied. The Roman Catholic practices to it are related to its purgatory doctrine, which is something that did not get developed until many centuries after Jesus–neither purgatory nor All Souls Day were endorsed by the original Church of God (see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?). And those in the Continuing Church of God do not endorse it to this day.

Notice another belief associated with All Souls’ Day:

On November 1, All Saints’ Day, adult spirits return, drawn by the ofrendas (altars with offerings), which serve as thresholds between this world and the next…A chair near the altar allows family members to visit with the dead before they depart on November 2nd, when the altar is taken down. The fragile paper decorations, like the transience of flowers, incense, and food, are reminders of the fleeting nature of life. Altars are reminders that the dead are welcomed by the living and continue to have a relationship with us as a natural part of life itself. (Andrade M. The Day of the Dead. http://www.burkemuseum.org/static/RR/DOFD/dofd2.htm. viewed 08/06/13)

Souls are not departing on this day as many falsely believe.

These “festivals of the dead” turn people away from God’s plan of salvation as laid forth by His Holy Days. And these death festivals encourage people to commune with, appease, serve and even worship the dead.

Speaking of the dead, notice also the following:

History of Day of the Dead ~ Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico during the chilly days of November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.

They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/support/dodhistory.html accessed 10/29/16

Of course none of those beliefs about deceased children reuniting for 24 hours are true. But the Church of Rome allows them.


Day of the Dead decorations

Regarding the Day of the Dead, Wikipedia reports:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

The Day of the Dead is clearly a pagan holiday. Perhaps I should mention that in various places in California, I have seen more and more promotion of the Day of the Dead/Día de Muertos. Its observance seems to becoming more publicly popular in this State.

Christians who wish to remain faithful to the original apostolic faith will not observe All Souls’ Day, All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead nor endorse purgatory, but endorse God’s Holy Days (see also Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day Are these original Christian observances? Does the Bible endorse them?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection? Is there more than one future resurrection? Did early Christians teach a physical resurrection? Did early Christians teach three resurrections?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day–is it a dead of the dead? What do these days teach?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? What about the use of the cross, by the early Church?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Immortality of the soul: Original Christian doctrine or not? Why?

Monday, October 29th, 2018

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

The vast majority in the Greco-Roman faiths of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxism, and Protestantism believe that humans have an immortal soul. Yet, the Continuing Church of God does not.

Did early Christians?

What does the Bible teach? What was the teaching of early church leaders often venerated as saints by the Greco-Romans on this?

This was addressed in a sermon titled Are humans immortal?

The terms immortal and immortality are not found in the Old Testament (NKJV).

Interestingly, Ezekiel recorded:

Behold, all souls are Mine;
The soul of the father
As well as the soul of the son is Mine;
The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).

Notice that Ezekiel says that souls that sin shall die. But since it is appointed unto men once to die (Hebrews 9:27), is this talking about the first or second death (Revelation 2:11;20:6,14;21:8)?

Well, notice the next several verses from Ezekiel:

But if a man is just And does what is lawful and right;
If he has not eaten on the mountains,Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife, Nor approached a woman during her impurity;
If he has not oppressed anyone, But has restored to the debtor his pledge; Has robbed no one by violence, But has given his bread to the hungry And covered the naked with clothing;
If he has not exacted usury Nor taken any increase,But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity And executed true judgment between man and man;
If he has walked in My statutes And kept My judgments faithfully–He is just; He shall surely live!”Says the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 18:5-9).

Ezekiel is obviously talking about the first death.

Why?

Notice that the just man shall live. This is in contrast to the one who practices sin, who shall die. And, think about this point, the just man was already alive, hence the fact that he shall live suggests that God will resurrect him so that he can live forever.

Ezekiel basically continues and again warns:

The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20).

These writings in the Old Testament seem to set the stage for the writings in the New Testament.

The New Testament

The New Testament teaches the same basic doctrines as the Old Testament, but tends to expand on them.

Jesus confirmed that souls can and will be destroyed when He taught:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body (Matthew 10:28).

If souls were truly immortal, then they could not be destroyed. Jesus taught that death was like sleep:

11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead” (John 11:11-14).

Notice also that Jesus taught that eternal life was given at a later time, in the age to come:

29 Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life (Luke 18:29-30).

Thus, humans do not possess that eternal life now. The dead are asleep now:

14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)

Perhaps the most famous passage in the New Testament is John 3:16. It states:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Notice the contrast above. Humans would perish (and this means eternally, since all die physically) if God had not loved the world enough to send Jesus so that the believers could have everlasting life.

Paul clearly understood this concept as here is some of what he wrote about immortality:

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” NKJV (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

Notice that Paul is saying that we must be changed in order to possess immortality, and that the sleeping dead will be raised. And that this occurs at the resurrection. No human has immortality now.

Nor did Paul as he taught:

I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (Phillipians 3:8-13).

Thus, the immortality attained at the resurrection is not something that Christians have today.

Furthermore, all humans cannot possibly possess immortality now. Look at what the Apostle John taught:

…you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15).

Since many people are or have been murderers, this proves that not all humans possess immortality.

Currently, look at who only has immortality:

He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

Thus, Jesus is the only one who was born human that who alone currently possesses immortality.

Other than the quotes above, the following are all the remaining times the NKJV uses the terms immortal or immortality:

…who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality (Romans 2:6-7).

…our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal (1 Timothy 1:16-17).

Note that every passage in the Bible that uses the terms immortal or immortality say that Jesus has immortality, that humans do not have it, that Jesus came so that humans can have it, and that He came to abolish death.

Why would this even be an issue if humans were already immortal?

Furthermore although some have used the term “soul sleep” in a negative manner towards those of us who believe that death is like sleep, notice what the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (1 Corinthians 15:16-18)

It is proper for Christians to teach and believe that death is like sleep. Those who condemn “soul sleep” are also condemning Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

Second Century Church Writings

But what about the early Church? After the apostles died (John being the last around 100 A.D.), there were early church writers who continued to teach what the apostles taught, which is what is in the Old and New Testaments. Many of the second century writings here are from true Church of God saints, and most of these writings are accepted as coming from “saints” according to the Greco-Roman churches.

Here is something from what is believed to be “the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived” (Holmes M.W. Ancient Christian Sermon. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004). This Ancient Christian Sermon contains these statements about it:

Now I do not think that I have given any mean council respecting continence, and whosoever performeth it will not repent thereof, but will save both himself and me his councilor. For it is no mean reward to convert a wondering and perishing soul, that it may be saved (15:1).

For if we have received commands, that we should make this our business, to tear men away from idols and to instruct them, how much more is it wrong that a soul which knoweth God already should perish! (17:1).

Souls that can perish cannot be immortal.

Notice this from Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians:

For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon His head, that He might breathe immortality into His Church (Chapter 17).

Especially [will I do this] if the Lord make known to me that ye come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that ye obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ (Chapter 20).

Ignatius is essentially teaching that Christ suffered to give immortality to the Church and we in the Church when we properly partake of Passover can live forever in Christ–otherwise we would die.

Be sober as an athlete of God: the prize set before you is immortality and eternal life, of which you are also persuaded (Ignatius. Letter to Polycarp, Chapter 2).

Polycarp of Smyrna (mid-2nd century) taught that the body and soul were to be resurrected, hence he taught against the immortality of the soul doctrine:

I bless you for because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14:2. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.239).

Though the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch now lists him in their succession list, around 170 A.D. Theophilus of Antioch wrote a position that seems to differ from current Eastern Orthodox doctrine on immortality:

When thou shalt have put off the mortal, and put on incorruption, then shall thou see God worthily. For God will raise thy flesh immortal with thy soul; and then, having become immortal, thou shalt see the Immortal, if now you believe on Him; and then you shall know that you have spoken unjustly against Him (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 1, Chapter VI. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God…so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God…For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXVII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But God at least, the Father and Creator of the universe did not abandon mankind, but gave a law, and sent holy prophets to declare and teach the race of men, that each one of us might awake and understand that there is one God. And they also taught us to refrain from unlawful idolatry, and adultery, and murder, fornication, theft, avarice, false swearing, wrath, and every incontinence and uncleanness; and that whatever a man would not wish to be done to himself, he should not do to another; and thus he who acts righteously shall escape the eternal punishments, and be thought worthy of the eternal life from God (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXXIV. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Probably prior to 180 A.D., Melito of Sardis, a famous church leader and writer, wrote:

He killed death which had put man to death (Melito. Homily On the Passover, Verse 66. Translation from Kerux: The Journal of Online Theology, http://www.kerux.com/documents/KeruxV4N1A1.asp 09/14/05). .

And by this, Melito is teaching that Jesus could provide immortality, as humans did not possess it (he obviously is not referring to physical death, as Christians have died throughout history).

Even though he held some heretical views, Irenaeus is considered to have been an important early theologian by Catholics and Protestants (around 180 A.D.) wrote, that:

Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King…may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book 1, Chapter 10, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Thus Irenaeus did understand the idea that humans do not possess immortality and that it is a gift of God. And this gift is only given to those that have kept His commandments.

He also understood that the resurrection was physical:

We therefore have formed the belief that [our] bodies also do rise again. For although they go to corruption, yet they do not perish; for the earth, receiving the remains, preserves them, even like fertile seed mixed with more fertile ground. Again, as a bare grain is sown, and, germinating by the command of God its Creator, rises again, clothed upon and glorious, but not before it has died and suffered decomposition, and become mingled with the earth (Irenaeus. Fragments of Irenaeus, Fragment VII. 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. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).

And even though he was not part of the true Church of God, Justin wrote:

Justin also stated, “For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians” (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

While those of us in the Continuing Church of God would agree that souls die (Ezekiel 18:4) and are not taken to heaven upon death (Job:14:14; John 3:13), those in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches would seem to disagree with Justin here.

The second century apologist Tatian, an associate of Justin, wrote:

The soul is not in itself immortal, O Greeks, but mortal. Yet it is possible for it not to die. If, indeed, it knows not the truth, it dies, and is dissolved with the body, but rises again at last at the end of the world with the body, receiving death by punishment in immortality (Tatian. Translated by J.E. Ryland. Tatian’s Address to the Greeks, Chapter XIII . Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Polycrates of Ephesus in the late second century wrote and told the Roman Bishop Victor:

Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24, Verse 5. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Thus immortality was something to be obtained, not something inherent. And the idea of man’s destiny to become God was known in the second century.

Tertullian was a second century religious leader outside the Church of God. And although he held doctrines that we in the COGs would find to be heretical, he is considered to have been an important early theologian by Roman Catholics. Tertullian wrote:

The resurrection is first, and afterwards the kingdom. We say, therefore, that the flesh rises again, but that when changed it obtains the kingdom. “For the dead shall be raised incorruptible,” even those who had been corruptible when their bodies fell into decay; “and we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. For this corruptible”–and as he spake, the apostle seemingly pointed to his own flesh–” must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” in order, indeed, that it may be rendered a fit substance for the kingdom of God. “For we shall be like the angels.” This will be the perfect change of our flesh–only after its resurrection. Now if, on the contrary, there is to be no flesh, how then shall it put on incorruption and immortality? Having then become something else by its change, it will obtain the kingdom of God, no longer the (old) flesh and blood, but the body which God shall have given it. Rightly then does the apostle declare, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;” for this (honour) does he ascribe to the changed condition which ensues on the resurrection (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 10. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus, he is correctly teaching that we are not now immortal and not, as we now are, fit for the kingdom of God–this ‘fitness’ occurs after the resurrection.

Third Century

The Catholic bishop Hippolytus was a third century religious leader outside the Church of God. And although he held doctrines that we in the COGs would find to be heretical, he is considered to have been one of the greatest early theologians by Roman Catholics.

Hippolytus wrote:

Let us believe then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven, (and entered) into the holy Virgin Mary, in order that, taking the flesh from her, and assuming also a human, by which I mean a rational soul, and becoming thus all that man is with the exception of sin, He might save fallen man, and confer immortality on men who believe on His name (Hippolytus. Against Noetus, Chapter 17. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Notice that Hippolytus taught that Jesus needed to come in order to confer immortality on men. He would not have to do that if humans were immortal.

Hippolytus also wrote:

For concerning the general resurrection and the kingdom of the saints, Daniel says: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” And Isaiah says: “The dead shall rise, and those in the tombs shall awake, and those in the earth shall rejoice.” And our Lord says: “Many in that day shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live” (Hippolytus. On the End of the World, Chapter XXXVI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Notice that Hippolytus is showing that death is like sleep and the dead must be raised.

The Catholic bishop Victorinus (ca. late third century) wrote:

“To him that overcomes I will give the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone.” The hidden manna is immortality; the white gem is adoption to be the son of God; the new name written on the stone is “Christian.” (Victorinus. Commentary on the Apocalypse. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm> viewed 12/27/08)

There would be no reason to give immortality if it was possessed upon birth.

Pertaining to peoples in the third century, Eusebius wrote about some in Arabia:

They said that during the present time the human soul dies and perishes with the body, but that at the time of the resurrection they will be renewed together (Eusebius. Church History, Book VI, Chapter 37).

The immortality of the soul doctrine seemed to enter the Greco-Roman churches from compromises with paganism and likely originated in Egypt. A spurious document, apparently from the second or early third century, may have been used to introduce the immortality heresy into the Alexandrian Orthodox:

Now, the proof that the soul is immortal will be put past doubt, not from what it says, or from what I hear, but from what I see: for seeing it with my eyes, I shall ever after hold the surest conviction of its immortality; and no fallacy of words or uncertainty of hearing shall ever be able to disturb the persuasion produced by sight. (The Recognitions of Clement, 1.5. In the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, Vol. VIII. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1995. Note: This text is considered to have been spurious and probably not written by Clement of Alexandria. It seems to be a second century document and could have impacted the views of Gregory the Wonder Worker and others.)

Notice that the claim for immortality above is NOT based on the Bible, but what the author claims to see. The Bible teaches that we are to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)–yet perhaps the first “pro-immortality” Greco-Roman writing does not appeal to scripture, unlike the future immorality writers generally did.

Since it is believed that Origen referred to this Recognition work c. 231, he would have been familiar with it, though some believe passages may have been added to it in the fourth or even later centuries (Smith T. Introductory Notice to The Recognitions of Clement. ANTE-NICENE FATHERS VOLUME 8. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages Edited by ALEXANDER ROBERTS, D.D., and JAMES DONALDSON, LL.D. Revised and Chronologically Arranged, with Brief Prefaces and Occasional Notes by A. CLEVELAND COXE, D.D. T&T CLARK EDINBURGH, pp. 73-74).

But it should be noted that in the mid-late third century a mystic often now referred to as Gregory the Wonder Worker studied under Origen in Alexandria Egypt. Gregory was the first to claim to see “Mary,” helped introduce heretical doctrines, and may have been the first of the Greco-Roman bishops to teach that the soul was immortal:

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

Sand, for another example, is simple, but that does not make it immortal. Yet the simplicity argument is supposedly proof of the false doctrine. Absurd.

And while this doctrine was not commonly accepted for a while, his change did get accepted (though to a significant degree because of others, but also likely some he at least indirectly affected). But it never should have been accepted. in Ezekiel 18:4 the Douay-Rheims Bible (a well known Roman Catholic rendition of scripture into the English language) teaches ” the soul that sinneth, the same shall die” and “The soul that sinneth, the same shall die” in Ezekiel 18:20.

Fourth Century

Athanasius was a fourth century religious leader outside the Church of God. And although he held doctrines that we in the COGs would find to be heretical (including some held by Gregory Thaumagutus), he is considered to be a major saint and historical figure by the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

But even he understood the concept that after the resurrection, Christians were to become God and that they had to inherit immortality, as man otherwise is mortal. Notice what he wrote:

…that by death immortality has reached to all, that by the Word becoming man, the universal Providence has been known, and its Giver and Artificer the very Word of God. 3. For He was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality (Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 54, Verses 2-3. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

…for us, that us who are mortal and temporal, the Lord, become man, might make immortal, and bring into the everlasting kingdom of heaven? (Athanasius. Discourse I Against the Arians, Chapter 48, Verse 1. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

‘The Word became flesh,’ that He might make man capable of Godhead…He created us, the Economy of our salvation; that though by the serpent’s deceit we fell from Him, we might not remain quite dead, but having in the Word the redemption and salvation which was afore prepared for us, we might rise again and abide immortal, what time He should have been created for us ‘a beginning of the ways,’ and He who was the ‘First-born of creation’ should become ‘first-born’ of the ‘brethren,’ and again should rise ‘first-fruits of the dead.’ (Athanasius. Discourse I Against the Arians, Chapters 59,75. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

The fourth century Catholic apologist and teacher Lactantius wrote:

For since man consists of two parts, body and soul, of which the one is earthly, the other heavenly, two lives have been assigned to man: the one temporal, which is appointed for the body; the other everlasting, which belongs to the soul. We received the former at our birth we attain to the latter by striving, that immortality might not exist to man without any difficulty. That earthly one is as the body, and therefore has an end; but this heavenly one is as the soul, and therefore has no limit. We received the first when we were ignorant of it, this second knowingly; for it is given to virtue, not to nature, because God wished that we should procure life for ourselves in life.

For this reason He has given us this present life, that we may either lose that true and eternal life by our vices, or win it by virtue…For other animals incline towards the ground, because they are earthly, and are incapable of immortality, which is from heaven; but man is upright and looks towards heaven, because immortality is proposed to him; which, however, does not come, unless it is given to man by God. For otherwise there would be no difference between the just and the unjust, since every man who is born would become immortal. Immortality, then, is not the consequence of nature, but the reward and recompense of virtue…God seeks to be worshipped, and to be honoured by man as a Father, that he may have virtue and wisdom, which alone produce immortality. For because no other but Himself is able to confer that immortality, since He alone possesses it, He will grant to the piety of the man, with which he has honoured God, this reward, to be blessed to all eternity, and to be for ever in the presence of God and in the society of God (Lactantius. Divine Institutes, Book VII, Of a Happy Life, Chapter 5).

The fourth century, Bishop Ambrose of Milan wrote:

The third death is that of which it is said: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.” In that death not only the flesh but also the soul dies, for “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” For it dies to the Lord, through the weakness not of nature but of guilt. But this death is not the discharge from this life, but a fall through error…The heathen mostly console themselves with the thought, either of the common misery, or of the law of nature, or of the immortality of the soul. And would that their utterances were consistent, and that they did not transmit the wretched soul into a number of ludicrous monstrosities and figures!

But what ought we to do, whose reward is the resurrection, though many, not being able to deny the greatness of this gift, refuse to believe in it? And for this reason will we maintain it, not by one casual argument only, but by as many as we are able…The blossom of the resurrection is immortality, the blossom of the resurrection is incorruption (Ambrose of Milan. Book II. On the Belief in the Resurrection, verses 37, 50, 54).

Thus even into the fourth century, the immortality of humans was not taught as is now accepted by Catholics and Protestants. But this seemed to change as many who professed Catholicism ended coming from a background in Mithraism (such as Emperor Constantine).

Mithraism Taught the Immortality of the Soul

In the fourth century, there was a sort of merging between the Greco-Roman churches and many who had been followers of the sun-god Mithras. And while the Greco-Romans did not adopt everything associated with Mithraism, they did adopt some practices and beliefs that those who followed Mithras had.

While many Roman emperors had been followers of Mithras, they tended to distain forms of Christianity. However this changed with Emperor Constantine.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

…it was especially in the western part of the empire that the veneration of Mithras predominated. Would it not be possible to gather all the different nationalities around his altars? Could not Sol Deus Invictus, to whom even Constantine dedicated his coins for a long time, or Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, venerated by Diocletian and Galerius, become the supreme god of the empire? Constantine may have pondered over this. Nor had he absolutely rejected the thought even after a miraculous event had strongly influenced him in favour of the God of the Christians…As pontifex maximus he watched over the heathen worship and protected its rights…It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas. Consequently Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun.

(Herbermann, Charles, and Georg Grupp. “Constantine the Great.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 1 Sept. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04295c.htm>)

It should be mentioned that the coins dedicated to Mithras still were produced for years after Constantines’ alleged acceptance of “Christianity”.

Mithraism taught the immortality of the soul. And though that was not the original position of the Greco-Roman churches, scholars recognize that both Mithraism and mainstream Christianity ended up with a similar teaching on this subject:

The resemblances between Mithraism and Christianity may be quickly summed up,—belief in the immortality of the soul (Aiken C.F., Mithraism and Christianity. The Catholic University bulletin, Volume 19, 1913. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Dec 19, 2008, p. 380)

They both admitted the existence of a Heaven inhabited by beatified ones, situate in the upper regions…they both, finally, believed in the immortality of the soul (Cumont, Franz. Translated from the second revised French edition by Thomas J. McCormack. The Mysteries of Mithra. Chicago, OThe Catholic University bulletin Author Catholic University of America Publisher Catholic University of America., 1913 Item notes v. 19 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Dec 19, 2008pen Court [1903] p. 193).

Because of Emperor Constantine’s strong influence (perhaps also combined with Gregory the Wonder Worker’s writings), it should be of little surprise that the Greco-Romans began to change to accept a teaching that they originally taught against. But for a while, the “immortality of the soul” view was in the minority.

Others also noticed some of this. Here is some of what the late Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about it in a paper dated November 23, 1949:

In Avesta, Mithra was the genius of celestial light…The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was another view which was very prominent in Mithraism…Of all the mystery cults, Mithraism was the greatest competitor of Christianity…That Christians did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 213-214, 217, 222, 224).

So, immortality of the soul was a prominent view within Mithraism and the Greco-Romans adopted it for their form of “Christianity”. (For more on Mithraism, please check out Do You Practice Mithraism?)

Here is a link to a ContinuingCOG YouTube video titled: Are humans immortal?

Some articles to assist in your studies may include:

Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
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.
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.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

‘The Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack: What We Know’

Sunday, October 28th, 2018


Logo of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League

COGwriter

A hate-filled person slaughtered people that he verbally persecuted:

The Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack: What We Know

October 28, 2018

A gunman opened fire inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday during morning services, killing 11 people and wounding six more, including four police officers.

The suspect in custody is identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who shouted “all Jews must die” as he opened fire.

The Anti-Defamation League described the mayhem as “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

Pittsburgh Director of Public Safety Wendell Hissrich says the scene inside the synagogue was “horrific. One of the worst that I’ve seen.”

The FBI is handling the investigation as a hate crime. Bowers was charged with 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.

Blood donation banks in Pittsburgh extended their hours for people who wanted to donate.

New York and Los Angeles added extra security precautions around houses of worship as news of the carnage became known.

President Donald Trump deplored the attack, saying, “The vile, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism must be condemned.”

Trump suggested the U.S. “stiffen” its death penalty laws in response to the crime. https://www.voanews.com/a/the-pittsburgh-synagogue-attack-what-we-know/4632321.html

Trump-hating, Jew-hating terrorist murders Jewish Americans at Saturday synagogue slaughter

… a deranged, Trump-hating, Jew-hating individual opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, reportedly killing as many as 11 people (the actual death count is unclear and may rise). The man, who has been named by multiple media sources as Robert Bowers, was captured by police and left behind a slew of social media pages raging with hatred toward globalists and Jews.

The individual is also a Trump hater and specifically talked about a “kike infestation” while also bashing Qanon. “For the record, I did not vote for [Trump] now have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat,” says a post that is believed to belong to the shooter. …

This is a horrifying escalation of pre-election violence. We pray for all those impacted by these acts of violence and terrorism. https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-10-27-trump-hating-jew-hating-terrorist-murders-jewish-americans-at-saturday-synagogue-slaughter.html

The families of those affected are in my prayers.

The action of the shooter, like other terrorists, brings the following end time warning to mind:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Terroristic murderers are brutal. Many are boasters, proud, without self-control. Sadly, the synagogue murderer is only one of many in these times that fits many of the warnings in 2 Timothy 3.

Of course, hatred of Jews is not new. It has been a problem for millennia as the Book of Esther helps document.

But it has also been a problem perpetuated by Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic, as well as Protestant, leaders.

A Protestant author wrote the following:

Coming To Terms With History of Christian Antisemitism

27 June 2018

Does teaching Christians the thorny history of Christian persecution of Jews have the potential to change Christian-Jewish relations? Bob O’Dell, Christian co-founder of Root-Source, a web-based initiative that facilitates Israeli Jews teaching Christians worldwide, thinks so.

He told Breaking Israel News, “​If a large number of Christians were to become aware of the extent of the damage done to the Jews by their Christian forefathers, the relationship between [Jews and] Christians would have to change, because the basis for much conversation would change.”

While researching the Blood Moon phenomenon in 2013, O’Dell chanced upon historic details of the Christian persecution of Jews.

“I spent 25 years working daily with Israeli Jews, and visited Israel over 30 times, without ever knowing the massive extent of Jewish persecution by Christians. All I really knew about was the Crusades. I had no idea about Martin Luther’s role in the Holocaust, for instance, and I certainly didn’t know about the deplorable history of the church since the time of Constantine,” O’Dell wrote in a recent essay on the Root Source website.

Eventually, he accumulated a record of 500 specific incidents of Christian persecution of Jews throughout history; incidents that included pogroms, lynchings, riots, forcing Jews to wear special clothing, expelling Jews from a country, antisemitic writing from Church Fathers, burning synagogues with Jews trapped inside, forced conversions, accusing Jews of killing Christian children to use their blood to make matzah and the rape and murder of Jews.

This awareness shocked him. In his own words, “I was undone,” both by the violent history of Christians toward the Jewish people and also by the fact that he had never learned this history. https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/110062/coming-to-terms-with-history-of-christian-antisemitism/

While people who were referred to as “Christians” have committed atrocities and anti-Semitic persecutions, no real Christian would have done that (or at least would have repented if he/she sinned that way). Instead many who have claimed Christ have caused “the way of truth” to be blasphemed (2 Peter 2:2).

The Apostle Paul makes the following statement about real and not real Christians:

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:9)

The antisemitic persecutors throughout history were NOT real Christians.

If we start with the pagan Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century (who is considered as an Eastern Orthodox saint), we note that he stated:

Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way. ( Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me add that when my wife and I visited the offices of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (the ‘first among equals’ for the Eastern Orthodox), there was a large painting of John Chrysostom on display.

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

How Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant leaders can still honor John Chrysostom shows some of the depths of antisemitic hate that some in those groups hold to.

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

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

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

The above book is still recommended by and for many Catholics (though some others distance themselves from it). Hence, some of the Greco-Romans have considered some of whom we in the Continuing Church of God include in our tracing of our spiritual ancestors (like some of the Cathars and Albigenses) to have been a secret Jewish group that only professed Christ. Of course that is false, otherwise, for example, we would not have produced literature such as Proof Jesus is the Messiah where we not only use scripture to prove Jesus is the Messiah, we challenge Jewish arguments against Jesus.

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

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

Furthermore he wrote:

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

Martin Luther advised his followers:

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

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

Leaders esteemed by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants have all advocated horrible antisemitism. They were NOT real Christians.

Many people hate others, and the Jews tend to be one of the more hated groups. But that is not how people are to live.

Real Christians have always been on the side being persecuted and have never been on the side of the persecutors. And this will be true again in the future.

People should not be terrorists nor antisemitic. People should not hate others.

Sadly, many who claim Christ still hold anti-Semitic views, and some take direct anti-Semitic actions.

Sadly, we will see persecution greatly increase before Jesus returns (cf. Daniel 7:25; 11:30-35; see also Persecutions by Church and State)–this will affect Philadelphian Christians.

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

Some items of related interest may include:

Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church.
The Spanish Inquisition and Early Protestant Persecutions Was the Church of Rome really responsible for this? What happened? A video of related interest is titled: The Past and Future Inquisition.
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.
God’s Grace is For All Is being Jewish a hindrance to salvation? What about not being a descendant of Israel? What does the Bible really teach? Here is a link to a related sermon titled Race and Grace; Do you view race as God does?
John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Anti-Semite This late fourth/early fifth century Bishop of Constantinople is considered to be a ‘saint’ and ‘doctor’ by the Church of Rome, Church of England, and the Eastern Orthodox, but he did not teach Christ’s love.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]. A sermon is also available: How Does the Church of God Differ from Protestantism?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? (And the Protestants) Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
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?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2018, 2019, or 2020? 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 2018 o 2019? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2018?
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.

Did Ignatius really endorse Sunday and push away the biblical Sabbath?

Friday, October 26th, 2018

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

Since Jesus and the Apostles kept the Sabbaths and the Holy Days, why do most who profess Christ not observe them? Many claim that Ignatius of Antioch had a writing that showed that the Sabbath was done away by the early second century. This misinformation is all over the internet. Actually, because the Living Church of God continued to knowingly publish and distribute incorrect information about this, I concluded it was not doing the work of God in truth (it also compounded it with another inaccurate publication on church history after I left).

As it turns out, the Catholics of Rome consider October 17th as the day to honor Ignatius of Antioch. And based upon intentional mistranslations of one of his writings (and many renowned Protestant scholars have participated in this), many falsely claim that he showed that the Sabbath was done away.

Yet, that is not true.

Without going in to the mistranslated portion of his writings (which I do in detail in the article Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath), let’s look at some of Ignatius’ other writings. Notice something that he wrote in his Letter to the Magnesians:

It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment.

The commandment that involves meeting together is the fourth commandment. It is the commandment that says to:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

Part of the way the Sabbath day is kept holy is by meeting together for church services (referred to as “an holy convocation” in Leviticus 23:1-3). There is no direct statement anywhere in the Bible requiring a weekly convocation on Sunday. In his Letter to the Romans, Ignatius observed that true Christians kept the commandments:

I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments…

But if any one preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him. For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men. Flee therefore the wicked devices and snares of the prince of this world, lest at any time being conquered by his artifices, ye grow weak in your love.

Notice that Ignatius is once again complaining about Judaic customs that are not from the Bible. How do we know that the practices that Ignatius is referring to are not from the Bible? Because Ignatius is clearly saying to avoid snares from “the prince of the world”. The prince Ignatius is referring to is Satan (see Ephesians 2:2), and since the Sabbath did not come from Satan, as it came from God (see Genesis 2:1-3), Ignatius would not refer to something that God made as wicked. Furthermore, notice that Ignatius mentioned keeping “every one of His commandments”, thus this is not simply an admonition to love, but to keep all the commandments. In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius wrote about false Christians:

But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact,] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me. Some ignorantly deny Him, or rather have been denied by Him, being the advocates of death rather than of the truth. These persons neither have the prophets persuaded, nor the law of Moses, nor the Gospel even to this day, nor the sufferings we have individually endured. For they think also the same thing regarding us.

Since he writes that some of the false Christians do not have “the law of Moses” it is reasonable to conclude that Ignatius believed that he did have the “law of Moses,” in regards to the ten commandments, including the Sabbath commandment. It may be of at least passing interest to note that Ignatius referred to the church as the “church of God” four times in his writings (see Letter to the Philadelphians 0:0, 10:1; Letter to the Trallians 2:2; Letter to the Smyrnaeans 0:0).

Ignatius did not do away with the seventh-day Sabbath nor write that it had been somehow done away.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
The Christian Sabbath. This is a series of articles from the Catholic Mirror essentially proving that the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, that the Lord’s day in Revelation 1 is not a reference to Sunday, that the Church of Rome implemented Sunday, and that nearly all Protestants followed Rome. Here is a link to a related sermon: Catholic teachings on the Sabbath, Sunday, and Protestantism.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
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.
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?
Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity
Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath
Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal? Are mistranslations of these early writings relied on for false doctrinal positions?

In late October, aspects of Revelation 17 should have became clearer as the Greco-Roman churches ended up militaristic

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018


Labarum Cross

COGwriter

On October 28, 312 there was a battle at the Milvian Bridge between Constantine (a follower of Mithras) and Maxentius that Constantine’s side won. Prior to the time of Constantine, even most apostates who claimed Jesus did not believe that Christians should war.

The Bible tells of an improper church-state alliance:

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:1-2)

Despite the warning in Revelation, after this battle, the Greco-Roman churches compromised with Emperor Constantine on military and other matters. The day is so important that it is observed by some Catholics as Milvian Bridge Day. Some Catholics also keep the 28th of October as St. Jude’s Day.

Having both of them observed the same day is somewhat an odd occurrence as there is a major contradiction between the two.

What is the contradiction?

The one known as Saint Jude wrote the following:

3…contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Hence, the Apostle Jude was advocating not changing the Christian faith from that which the apostles were given.

Yet, Milvian Bridge Day signifies the beginning of a series of events that led to the adoption of many additional changes in the faith commonly referred to as Catholic, often from the faith of the followers of Mithras. Milvian Bridge Day marks a rise in many aspects of Mithraism and other religious ideas held by Constantine.

For example, did you know that the “cross” became a military symbol after the sun-worshiping Emperor Constantine, and member of the highly militarized cult of Mithraism, claimed to have a vision and a dream on/near what is now known as Milvian Bridge Day:

In 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great was in Trier, Germany where he had an unexpected vision of a cross that appeared in the sky..Constantine’s soldiers, the majority of whom were pagans, placed the sacred image of the cross on their shields (Mangan C.M. In This Sign You Conquer, 10/15/03 Copyright © 2004 Catholic Online).

He {Constantine} said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens , above the sun, and bearing the inscription , Conquer by this…in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens , and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens , and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies….At dawn of day he arose, and communicated the marvel to his friends: and then, calling together the workers in gold and precious stones, he sat in the midst of them, and described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stones…

Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre…

The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies. (Eusebius. The Life of Constantine, Book I, Chapters 28,30,31).

This type of cross is known as a labarum:

The Labarum (☧) was a vexillum (military standard) that displayed the first two Greek letters of the word “Christ” (Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Χριστός) — Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ).It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I…

Though modern representations of the chi-rho sign represent the two lines crossing at ninety degree angles, the early examples of the Chi-Rho cross at an angle that is more vividly representative of the chi formed by the solar ecliptic path and the celestial equator. This image is most familiar in Plato’s Timaeus…Of Plato’s image in Timaeus, Justin Martyr, the Christian apologist writing in the second century, found a prefiguration of the Cross (Labarum. Wikipedia, viewed 03/04/09).

So, the Chi-Rho existed from at least the time of Plato (a pagan philosopher), but was adopted by Constantine centuries after Christ died. The heretic Justin was probably the one who originally encouraged its adoption, and he apparently got it from Plato. Use of crosses by Christians was not part of the original faith that the Apostle Jude said to contend for.

There is also a Catholic writer who indicates that the image or perhaps mark of the beast may be something that resembles that Constantinian cross:

Priest P. Huchedé (19th century): Antichrist will further make all men, great and small, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, bear a sign on their right arm or their forehead. (Apoc. 13:16). What this sign shall be time alone will reveal. Yet there are some {Catholic} commentators of the Holt Writ, who, according to a special revelation pretend to say that it shall be formed out of the Greek letters X and P, interlaced…which resembles the number of Christ. (Cornelius a Lapide in Epis. 2 to Thes.). No one can either buy or sell without this mark, as specified in the Apocalypse (13:17). (Huchedé, P. Translated by JBD. History of Antichrist. Imprimatur: Edward Charles Fabre, Bishop of Montreal. English edition 1884, Reprint 1976. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 24).

If the cross is a symbol of the future Antichrist/Beast power as Priest P. Huchedé indicates it likely could be (and it is in a book with an official imprimatur), perhaps those who come from faiths descended from Emperor Constantine should be concerned about their religion now–before it becomes even further removed from the original faith. The Bible indicates that the true Christians will NOT have the symbol/mark needed to buy or sell when the two beasts of Revelation 13 are in power, but only those that follow those two beasts will (Revelation 13:16-17)–and while crosses may not necessarily be required everywhere, other Catholic writings suggest that in certain places, they will be.

Consider that, prior to Constantine, relatively few who professed Christ would voluntarily be part of the military, and none of the truly faithful did. Even knowledgeable scholars realize that the original Christians would not kill or intentionally participate in military service. Yet, after Emperor Constantine claimed to see a spear in the sky with a traverse bar (see Constantine is Why “Christians” War), most soldiers in the Roman Empire professed Christianity. Now the group that accepted his authority then allowed him to convene what is known as the Council of Nicea in 325. A.D. with the unbaptized Emperor Constantine functioning as a “lay bishop” despite not having had hands laid upon him, etc. He also came up with a term for the Godhead that many still use today (see quote from Dr. H. Brown in Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?).

It was, in large measure, because of the influence of Constantine that many changes were made and/or adopted that contradicted the original faith that the Apostle Jude said that Christians were to contend earnestly for (Jude 3).

While some have falsely claimed that God gave that vision to Emperor Constantine, those same ones tend to overlook a vision that Constantine claimed to have two years before this. Constantine personally claimed to see an apparition of the sun god Sol in a grove of Apollo in Gaul in 310 (discussed in Rodgers, Barbara S. “Constantine’s Pagan Vision, ”Byzantion, vol. 50, 1980, pp. 259–78).

Even after his alleged conversion to his claimed version of the Christian faith in 312 (if he was ever baptized, it was supposedly on his death bed in 337 A.D., despite Emperor Constantine declaring himself a lay “Christian” bishop by 325), Emperor Constantine still put the sun god Sol on his coins.

Constantine was NOT a true Christian.

Thus, those who observe either of these days should meditate on whether they should listen more to Jude’s biblical admonition or observe the many changes that a follower of the Mithras religion got various bishops and others to follow.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. 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?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

2018 schism between the Eastern and Russian Orthodox; Was the Sabbath an issue in the 1054 schism?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018


Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

COGwriter

Consistent with what Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church said last month, his church essentially declared a schism between the Eastern and Russian Orthodox churches:

The Russian Orthodox Church has compared Ukraine’s moves for independence to the Great Schism of 1054 that split western and eastern Christianity, and warned they could lead to an irreversible rupture in the global Orthodox community.

Ilarion said Constantinople’s decision to back the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s independence drive was illegal and that the Russian Orthodox Church would disregard it.

“We are hoping common sense will prevail and that the Constantinople Patriarchate will change its relations to existing church reality,” he said. 10/15/18 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-church-russia/russian-orthodox-church-breaks-with-constantinople-in-row-over-ukraine-idUSKCN1MP24G

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has ruled that further Eucharistic ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople are impossible, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said after a session of the Holy Synod in Minsk,Belarus, on Monday.

“The decision was taken at a session of the Holy Synod to fully break contacts with the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” he said.

The Russian Orthodox Church does not accept these decisions and won’t abide by them,” he said. “Schism is schism, and leaders of schism remain leaders of schism. While the church that has started relations with the dissenters after recognizing them, has thus expelled itself from the canonical field of the Orthodox Church,” he said.

“This is the main reason why we have to stop contacts with the Patriarchate of Constantinople that has filly identified itself with schism,” he stressed. 10/15/18 http://tass.com/society/1026077

If Monday’s decision is a lasting one, the loss of the powerful and wealthy Russian church will be a serious blow to the global church. It also marks an important new facet for the rift between Russia and Ukraine, who have become bitter enemies since the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass. …

Ukraine’s government had lobbied strongly for autocephaly as part of a larger break from Russian influence in the country’s affairs.

“Autocephaly is part of our pro-European and pro-Ukrainian state strategy,” the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, said in a statement last week. He also called Moscow’s loss of control over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “the fall of the ‘third Rome’ as the most ancient conceptual claim of Moscow for the global domination”.

Russia’s Orthodox Church already had a tense relationship with the religious authorities in Istanbul. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/15/russian-orthodox-church-cuts-ties-with-constantinople

This rift has been brewing in the Orthodox world between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) for some time.

Politics, more than theology, seems to be the main cause for it.

That being said, the Orthodox consider the split between them and the Church of Rome in 1054 as the “great schism.”

Perhaps this would be a good place to mention that it was the Sabbath-practices by the Orthodox which was one of the reasons that caused its schism from the Roman Catholic Church.

In the fifth century, the historian Socrates noted:

For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and the inhabitants of Thebais, hold their religious assemblies on the sabbath, but do not participate of the mysteries in the manner usual among Christians in general (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Rome actually fasted on the Sabbath. Notice, according to Victorinus, bishop of Pettau (circa 304), as to the reason those associated with Rome fasted:

On the seventh day…we are accustomed to fast rigourously…We must fast even on Friday in order that we not appear to observe the Sabbath with the Jews (Cited in Bacchiocchi S. Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday, p. 74).

However, this was not the case in Asia Minor, where Constantinople was located, as many continued to observe the Sabbath:

R.L. Odom has persuasively brought out that the Roman insistence on making the Sabbath a day of fast contributed greatly to the historic break between the Eastern and Western Christian Church which occurred in A.D. 1054 (Cited in Bacchiocchi Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday, p. 67).

The polemic work Against the Calumnities of the Greeks of Cardinal Humbert of Rome, provides additional evidence in this regard. The Cardinal argues that the Latins in no way resemble the Jews in their observance of the Sabbath, since on that day they “do all sorts of work, even as in the preceding five days and fast [on the Sabbath]. …” He proceeds then to show the Greeks that they are the ones who judaize since they observe the Sabbath in an identical manner of the Jews…the document date (ca. A.D. 1054)…the lengthy quotation from “the most blessed Pope Sylvester” (A. D. 314-355)…Cardinal Humbert cites to dissuade the Greeks from the observance of the Sabbath (Cited in Bacchiocchi Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday, pp. 74-75).

Or in other words, the Roman Catholics were upset that the Orthodox (the Greeks) considered the Sabbath a festal and not a fast day and that this is one of the reasons why they separated from each other.

While the Orthodox tend to point to 1054 for the split, the Romans tend to have a mixed view:

In an attempt to quell the disturbance, the pope sent a three-man delegation, led by Cardinal Humbert, to visit Patriarch Cerularius, but matters worsened. The legates presented the patriarch with the pope’s reply to his charges. Both sides managed to infuriate each other over diplomatic courtesies, and when the smoke cleared, a serious rift had developed. This was not, however, the actual break between the two communions. It’s a popular myth that the schism dates to the year 1054 and that the pope and the patriarch excommunicated each other at that time, but they did not.

Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware (formerly Timothy Ware) writes, “The choice of Cardinal Humbert was unfortunate, for both he and Cerularius were men of stiff and intransigent temper. . . . After [an initial, unfriendly encounter] the patriarch refused to have further dealings with the legates. Eventually Humbert lost patience, and laid a bull of excommunication against Cerularius on the altar of the Church of the Holy Wisdom. . . . Cerularius and his synod retaliated by anathematizing Humbert (but not the Roman Church as such)” (The Orthodox Church, 67).

The New Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The consummation of the schism is generally dated from the year 1054, when this unfortunate sequence of events took place. This conclusion, however, is not correct, because in the bull composed by Humbert, only Patriarch Cerularius was excommunicated. The validity of the bull is questioned because Pope Leo IX was already dead at that time. On the other side, the Byzantine synod excommunicated only the legates and abstained from any attack on the pope or the Latin Church.”

There was no single event that marked the schism, but rather a sliding into and out of schism during a period of several centuries, punctuated with temporary reconciliations. The East’s final break with Rome did not come until the 1450s (Catholic Answers.  Eastern Orthodoxy. NIHIL OBSTAT: Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004 . IMPRIMATUR: +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004 http://www.catholic.com/library/Eastern_Orthodoxy.asp viewed 02/01/08)

Notice that Cardinal Humbert was sent to Constantinople, but made matters worse. However, it partially was because of his position in his “Against the Calumnities of the Greeks” paper that the Orthodox found Carindal Humbert so offensive–and part of why Cardinal Humbert was upset was because the Orthodox refused to change Saturday into a fast day (the Latin Church finally got rid of that itself in the Middle Ages–even though Cardinal Humbert was insistent about it in 1054).

How many Orthodox realize that offenses related to Saturday observance were a major factor in “the Great Schism”?

Perhaps if the Orthodox would study more into their history they will realize that the faithful in Asia Minor (including the Apostles Paul and John) did keep the seventh-day Sabbath and so should they.

Anyway, this current schism essentially places much of the world’s Orthodox outside of Constantinople as about half of world’s Orthodox were Russian Orthodox.

This schism has many ramifications, including what will happen in the Balkans and what will happen with the ecumenical movement.

The World Council of Churches has tended to support the Russian Orthodox as has Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has warned people against committing “sins against unity”:

“In a Christian community division is one of the most serious sins, because it does not allow God to act,” the Pope said in his Aug. 27 general audience address. “What God wants is that we be welcoming, that we forgive and love each other so as to become more and more like Him, who is communion and love.”

Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Roman Pontiff explained that as Catholics “we affirm in the Creed that the Church is one and that she is holy.”

“One because she has her origin in the Triune God, mystery of unity and full communion. Holy since she is founded by Jesus Christ, enlivened by his Holy Spirit, and filled with his love and salvation.”

We continue to refer to the Church as “one” and “holy” despite the fact that “we know by experience that it is also composed of sinners and that there is no shortage of divisions,” he said, recalling how the night before he was arrested Jesus “asked for the unity of his disciples: ‘that all be one.’”

“We trust in his desire that unity will be one of the characteristic features of our community,” the Pope continued, noting that “While we, the members of the Church, are sinners, the unity and holiness of the Church arise from God and call us daily to conversion.”

Observing how “We have an intercessor in Jesus, who prays…for our unity with him and the Father, and with each other,” the Bishop of Rome drew attention to the sins that often cause division.

“Sins against unity are not only schisms,” he said, “but also the most common weeds of our communities: envies, jealousies, antipathies … talking bad about others. This is human, but it is not Christian.” (Harris E. Pope: division is among greatest sins of Christian communities. CNA, August 27, 2014. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-division-is-the-greatest-sin-of-christian-communities-12972/)

According to the Apostle Jude, it is a requirement, and not a sin, to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” Jude 3, NKJV) or to “fight hard for the faith which has been once and for all entrusted to God’s holy people” as the NJB puts it. Compromising part of the true faith for the sake of unity is the sin here.

While there are certain ceremonial similarities (as well as differences) between the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, if people really wish to become “the people of the book” they need to reject all non-biblical doctrines and not enter into greater unity with groups that promote non-biblical doctrines (as well as look into many of their own doctrines).

As far as unity matters go, notice a news item from this past Summer that came to a wrong ‘guarantee’ conclusion:

27 June 2018

In his greeting for the 70th anniversary of the institution, he defines it as “an exceptional space for dialogue between Christians of various confessions”. The appeal to help Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, threatened to disappear. The WCC support for Moscow Patriarchate over Kiev in Ukraine. …

Addressing the WCC secretary, the Norwegian Lutheran theologian Olav Fykse Tveit, and the entire Central Committee, the Russian Patriarch recalled that the Council is “a major international organization and unique platform for dialogue between Christians of various confessions. For the years of its work, the World Council of Churches has done much to develop inter-confessional dialogue, to promote justice in society and peace among nations. “. Kirill recalled how “the entry of the Russian Orthodox Church in the WCC in 1961 helped to open for it new opportunities” and how “our special concern were joint efforts in overcoming the confrontation between East and West and struggling for peace and justice in international relations.”. …

in conclusion of Kirill’s message, is the gratitude to the WCC “for the firm position expressed by the Secretary General in his appeal to the state authorities of Ukraine, in defence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” – meaning the one faithful to Moscow, the only one considered “canonical” – “which is currently the subject of discrimination and persecution”. The WCC support for Moscow’s legitimacy in Ukraine, together with the support of Pope Francis and the leaders of the Catholic Church, should guarantee the Russians sufficient pressure to prevent the recognition of Ukrainian autocephaly (Kiev Patriarchate) by Constantinople , the most “burning issue” in inter-Orthodox relations in recent months. http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Patriarch-Kirill-praises-the-World-Council-of-Churches-44279.html

Now there is a major schism. Theological-political alliances alluded to above did not stop it.

As I have been writing for sometime, I believe a split/schism will be temporal, based upon scriptures in Revelation 13.

There are also a couple of interesting Catholic prophecies some may wish to consider:

Anna-Katarina Emmerick (October 1, 1820): The Church is in great danger…The Protestant doctrine and that of the schismatic Greeks are to spread everywhere.  I now see that in this place (Rome) the (Catholic) Church is being so cleverly undermined, that there hardly remain a hundred or so priests who have not been deceived.  They all work for the destruction, even the clergy.  A great destruction is now at hand…

(April 22, 1823): I saw that many pastors allowed themselves to be taken up with ideas that were dangerous to the Church.  They were building a great, strange, and extravagant Church.  Everyone was admitted in it in order to be united and to have equal rights: Evangelicals, Catholics, sects of every description.  Such was to be the new Church (Dupont, pp. 66, 71).

Yves Dupont (reader and reporter of Catholic prophecies): prophecies are quite explicit about the election of an anti-pope…Many prophecies predict an anti-pope and a schism. (Dupont, pp. 34,60-61)

Essentially, these Catholic writings call the Eastern Orthodox schismatic, but also warn the Church of Rome will accept error in its attempts at ecumenical unity.

That would seem to be consistent with scriptures such as those in Revelation 17.

Some Eastern Orthodox look forward to this reconciliation, but also expect an antipope near then:

Helen Tzima Otto (20th century): We have been told time and time again through the prophets that the Great Monarch and Papa Angelorum…will convene the 8th Ecumenical Council, which will reunify all Christians…The Emperor will spend three years waging wars against the non-Christian nations…{later will be} the end time schism of the Roman Catholic Church of the End Times and the rise of an antipope. (Tzima Otto, pp. xxv, 103, 122)

Saint Nelios the Myrrh-Gusher (died 1592): During that time the Eighth and last Ecumenical Synod will take place, which will satisfy the contentions of the heretics…(Tzima Otto, H.  The Great Monarch and WWIII in Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Scriptural Prophecies.  Verenikia Press, Rock Hill (SC), 2000, p. 111).

Apparently the “non-Christian nations” will be those that do not desire to be part of the ecumenical church that is to form. There, by the way, was supposed to be an “Eighth ecumenical council” a couple of years ago, but the Russian Orthodox had issues, so it ended up being something else.

But it is likely such an ecumenical council like this will happen someday.

As far as what is likely to bring temporal unity, the Bible tells of ‘signs and lying wonders’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)–and those are something that will happen and be factors in the coming unity between the Vatican, Protestants, and the Orthodox.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Russia and Ukraine: Their Origins and Prophesied Future Russia in prophecy. Where do the Russians come from? What about those in the Ukraine? What is prophesied for Russia and its allies? What will they do to the Europeans that supported the Beast in the end? There is also a video sermon available: Russia in the Bible and in Prophecy and a video sermonette available: Ukraine in Prophecy?
Is Russia the King of the North? Some claim it is. But what does the Bible teach? Here is a link to a video, also titled Is Russia the King of the North?
Ezekiel 38: For Russia & Iran in Our Day? Is Ezekiel 38 about to be fulfilled? A related video is available titled Ezekiel 38: For Russia, Ukraine, & Iran Now?
The Eurasian Union, the Kings of the East, and Bible Prophecy Is there a Eurasian union that will be formed? Is one being formed right now? Are any leaders working on that in the 21st century? Does the Bible teach that there will be a Eurasian union? If some type of Eurasian union is formed, who might it benefit and who will it destroy? A related video would be Is The Eurasian Union Rising?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Who is the King of the North? Is there one? Do biblical and Roman Catholic prophecies for the Great Monarch point to the same leader? Should he be followed? Who will be the King of the North discussed in Daniel 11? Is a nuclear attack prophesied to happen to the English-speaking peoples of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? When do the 1335 days, 1290 days, and 1260 days (the time, times, and half a time) of Daniel 12 begin? When does the Bible show that economic collapse will affect the United States? In the Spanish language check out ¿Quién es el Rey del Norte? Here is a link to a video titled: The Future King of the North.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2018, 2019, or 2020? 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 2018 o 2019? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2018?
The Times of the Gentiles Has there been more than one time of the Gentiles? Are we in it now or in the time of Anglo-America? What will the final time of the Gentiles be like? A related sermon is available and is titled: The Times of the Gentiles.
Armageddon Who is involved and when will this gathering happen? Here is also a video from Dr. Thiel, from Tel Megiddo in Israel: Armageddon. Another video is: watch Is China paving roads to Armageddon?
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.
Mystery of Iniquity What is the mystery of iniquity? How did it start? How will it end? Two related sermons are also available: The Mystery of Iniquity and The Mystery of Lawlessness.
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? See also World Council of Churches Peace Plan.
The ‘Unpardonable Sin’ and ‘Climate Change’? On September 7, 2016, Olav Fykse Tveit, Church of Norway Pastor, and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, essentially declared that those who ignore ‘climate change’ are committing the ‘unpardonable sin’ and the Holy Spirit. Are those two even related? In this video, Dr. Thiel answers that and explains from the Bible what the ‘unpardonable sin’ is and how you can avoid it. He also discusses aspects of Christianity and the environment. This is a video.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
United Nations: Humankind’s Last Hope or New World Order? Is the UN the last hope for humanity? Or might its goals end up with sinister results? Two related videos include UN’s ‘New Universal Agenda’ is a False Gospel! and United Nations and Vatican Are Planning the New World Order.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
The Christian Sabbath. This is a series of articles from the Catholic Mirror essentially proving that the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, that the Lord’s day in Revelation 1 is not a reference to Sunday, that the Church of Rome implemented Sunday, and that nearly all Protestants followed Rome. Here is a link to a related sermon: Catholic teachings on the Sabbath, Sunday, and Protestantism.
Laudato Si: Pope’s Agenda or Kingdom of God? Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical is titled ‘Laudato Si.’ In it, he goes over his views related to environmental, economic, social, moral, agricultural, and spiritual issues. He advocates international cooperation to solve various problems he believes are affecting humanity. Is that Pope’s agenda the solution? What about the Kingdom of God? does the Bible teach? Two related articles include Laudato Si: Will Pope Francis’ economic actions match his words? and Laudato Si: A call for a one-world government?