Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

CG7 and the Seventh Month Movement

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Blowing of a Shofar

COGwriter

Sunset Sunday, September 13th, 2015, will begin the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar known biblically as Ethanim (1 Kings 8:2) but more commonly known as Tishri.

Tom Roberts, who at the time he produced this was part of a group called CG7 Meridian (not to be confused with the vastly larger CG7-Denver), wrote the following:

In 1858, Gilbert Cramer from the Marion Party, founded eight churches which would ultimately become the Church of God Seventh Day. Out of this ministry arose the Remnant of Israel under the leadership of G. G. Rupert who definitely advocated the meaning of Holy Day observance. (“Remnant of Israel”, G. G. Rupert, Vol 10, No. 11, September, 1929) Some today are suggesting that G. G. Rupert was a delegate at the 1888 Seventh Day Adventist Conference which began the change of direction of the SDA Church from its founders with the departure of Wagner and Jones.This conference was very significant because its theme was “Righteousness by Faith” and was needed to free Sabbatarians from legalism.Unfortunately, as the years passed, many of the founding voices of Adventism who once gave support to the Seventh Month Movement were no longer influential.Ellen White even stated that the Adventist camp meetings should replicate the Feast of Tabernacles…

As the years progressed, Adventist scholars such N. L. Andreason, Raymond Cottrell, Ken Richards, Desmond Ford, and many others began to question the classical Adventist positions taught about the history of their beginnings and the direction the church was taking. There were those who wanted to go back to the non-trinitarian, Holy Day, Kingdom of God on earth positions of the church. Others such as Desmond Ford, wanted the church to move in an evangelical direction while some at La Sierra University have tried to place the church on a more progressive path. Once again, the church is beginning to denounce all feast day keepers. Angel Rodriguez, PhD, and others have denounced the entire feast day movement. In spite of this, the ethos of feast day movements are still are behind the thinking of much of Seventh Day Adventist theology. One such example is Leslie Hardinge’s In the Shadow of His Sacrifice. He does an absolutely brilliant job of teaching Christianity the meaning of the Holy Days and the lessons that should impact their thinking about the Messiah.

Today there is a growing but small number of small groups of Adventist Holy Day Keepers who are attempting to resurrect the Seventh Month Movement in the Adventist Church. Dr. John Vandenberg is leading the charge along with a few other scholars and pastors by showing the Seventh Month Movement should never have been buried in Adventist history but instead modified to exclude its theological errors. It should have retained the spirit of Holy Day keeping in the worship and the life of the church.

Let us all pray and support this movement and fellowship with them as offer our love and service.

Gilbert Cranmer helped form a group that was called Church of God, Adventist. Eventually, various changes occurred to that group and it became, in the 20th century, the Church of God, Seventh-day (CG7).

The reasons for the term “Seventh Month Movement” include the fact that the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar contains what are commonly referred to as the ‘Fall Holy Days.’ The first day of the seventh month (Tishri) is the Feast of Trumpets, and then all the rest of the Fall Holy Days occur in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Hence “Seventh Month Movement” connotes observance (to some degree) of the biblical Fall Holy Days.

Most Sabbath-keeping Church of God groups observe and endorse the biblical Fall Holy Days of the seventh month (the Church of God, Seventh-day Denver does not, but it now does allow its members to do so).

There are also some within the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) movement that endorse the holy days, but they are a minority.

Yet, the late SDA scholar Samuele Bacchiochi not only endorsed the biblical holy days late in his life, he also wrote books about them (which I purchased and read) explaining why he felt that they had biblical and historical support for their observances. He even cited some statements from Ellen White hinting that she supported their observance.

Every now and then, I hear from some associated with the SDA movement who recognize that doctrinal compromise has occurred within it and that they lean more towards Church of God doctrines in certain areas.

CG7 itself allows its members to observe the biblical holy days if they do not insist that others need to. Interestingly, A.N. Dugger, who was president of CG7 in the early part of the 20th century ended up keeping the holy days himself after he left that organization.

Those of us in the Continuing Church of God do observe the biblical holy days.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Should you keep the Fall Holy Days?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?
Offertory: Blow the Trumpet This is an offertory video for the Holy Days, and specifically was made for the Feast of Trumpets. It goes through various scriptures in Jeremiah Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, and Isaiah related to blowing trumpets. It also contains an audio clip of the blowing of a shofar. It discusses who is blowing the trumpet now. And provides statistics to back up that conclusion.
Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It? What does the Bible say? What does this festival picture?
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
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? What do these days teach? A related sermon video is Feast of Tabernacles from Israel.
Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015 This is information on the planned Feast of Tabernacles’ sites for the Continuing Church of God in 2015. The Feast in 2015 begins the evening of September 27th.
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 The real Church of God is NOT part of the Seventh-day Adventists. This article explains two prophetic differences, the trinity, and differences in approaching doctrine, including Ellen White. It also answers the question, “Did Ellen White make clear prophetic errors?”
Church of God, (Seventh Day): History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace part of their history through some affiliation with this group. Whaid Rose is the president of the largest CG7 group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.

Should YOU keep the Fall Holy Days?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Blowing of a Shofar

COGwriter

The ‘Fall’ Holy Days will start soon for 2015.

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce this sermon which is at its ContinuingCOG channel.

The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day?

Those of us faithful in the Continuing Church of God who are able, keep the Feast of Tabernacles and believe that it foreshadows the coming millennium.

Notice also that the Catholic, Orthodox, and Church of God Saint Polycarp of Smyrna kept the Fall Holy Days:

I will give the narration in order, thus coming down to the history of the blessed Polycarp…

So also he pursued the reading of the Scriptures from childhood to old age, himself reading in church; and he recommended it to others, saying that the reading of the law and the prophets was the forerunner of grace, preparing and making straight the ways of the Lord, that is the hearts, which are like tablets whereon certain harsh beliefs and conceptions that were written before perfect knowledge came, are through the inculcation of the Old Testament, and the correct interpretation following thereupon, first smoothed and levelled, that, when the Holy Spirit comes as a pen, the grace and joy of the voice of the Gospel and of the doctrine of the immortal and heavenly Christ may be inscribed on them. And he said that they could not otherwise receive the impression of the seal which is given by baptism and engrave and exhibit the form conveyed in it, unless the wax were first softened and filled the deep parts. So also he thought that the hearts of the hearers ought to be softened and yield to the impress of the Word. For he said that it unfolded and opened, like closed doors, the minds of recent comers; and accordingly the prophet was bidden by God, Cry out mightily and spare not, Raise thy voice as a trumpet. What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink. (Pionius, Life of Polycarp (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp.488-506.)

Polycarp, according to the above, seems to have endorsed the Fall Holy Day season which begins with the Feast of Trumpets, includes the Feast of Tabernacles, and ends on The Last Great Day. And while the Day of Atonement was not specifically mentioned above, it was mentioned in the Book of Acts, where it is referred to as the Fast (Acts 27:9).

During the Middle Ages the fall holidays were observed, though records are limited.

Notice the following report:

Under the name of Passagini, we have the clearest sort of statement that these people, about 1200, observed the whole Old Testament law, including the Sabbath and FESTIVALS! People called Cathars at Cologne, Germany, kept a fall festival, called “Malilosa”, even before Waldo began to preach. Compare this unexplained name with Hebrew “melilah” (a harvested ear of grain — Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) and the Biblical title “Feast of Ingathering” (Ex. 23:16). How much more we might have known about these Middle Ages’ Feasts of Tabernacles had not the Inquisitors so zealously burned the records! The three-part division of tithes paid the Waldensian Church is significant. Even in the 1500′s the same division continued. “The money given us by the people is carried to the aforesaid general council, and is delivered in the presence of all, and there it is received by the most ancients (the elders), and part thereof is given to those that are wayfaring men, according to their necessities, and part unto the poor” (George Morel, Waldensian elder, quoted by Lennard, “History of the Waldenses”). 1. Compare this practice with Num. 18:21 and Deut. 14:22-25, 28-29. Isn’t it exactly what the Bible commands?… Most authors have ASSUMED the “wayfaring men” were the traveling “barbel.” But THEIR expenses would have been paid from the money given the elders, at EVERY time of year, for the direct conduct of the Work — “first” tithe and offerings. Notice that in Numbers 18:21. What Morel then mentions is a “second” tithe, for those traveling to and from the festivals — wayfaring men; and following it, the “third” to the poor. See the explanation in Deut. 14. Feast goers who had more “second tithe” than they needed shared their excess with those who had need, even as they do today! (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place …” Rev. 12:6).

Furthermore, Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s and probably later kept the Fall Holy Days such as the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Trumpets (called Day of Remembrance below):

The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles..They held to the biblical holidays…The Day of Atonement was a day of fasting, although they emphasized that pentinence is more easily acheived by a peaceful and quiet meditation on the law and one’s life than by fasting. The Day of Remembrance (New Year, which they celebrated in the Fall of the year) was the day on which they thanked God especially for the creation of the universe. There is no mention of circumcision, so it is unlikely that they practiced circumcision (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).

And the Fall Holidays are still observed into the 21sth century by many Sabbath-keeping Church of God groups, such as the Continuing Church of God.

The biblical Holy Days (both Spring and Fall) were kept by early, faithful Christians, and this is clear from both scripture and early church records. And there is a scattering of later records showing that they have been kept by some professors of Christ throughout history.

The first Holy Day this Fall season is the Feast of Trumpets (called Rosh Hashanah by the Jews) which begins September 13th, 2015 at sunset until sunset September 14th.

The second Holy Day this Fall season is the Day of Atonement (called Yom Kippur by the Jews) which begin September 22nd, 2015 at sunset until sunset September 23rd.

The seven day Feast of Tabernacles begins at sunset September 27th, continues until sunset October 4th, and is immediately followed by the Last Great Day, which ends October 5th, 2014 at sunset. Most people travel to attend the Feast of Tabernacles (here is a link to CCOG’s Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015). This has limited information on many Feast of Tabernacles locations for this Fall feast.)

Then, other than the weekly Sabbaths, after the Last Great Day there are no Holy Days until Passover in the Spring.

The early, faithful, Christians kept what many now refer to as “Jewish” holidays. Jesus, Paul, and the apostles did. They were part of “the faith once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

Perhaps you should look into them more?

Again, the first one this year is the Feast of Trumpets which starts after sunset on the 13th of September.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Should you keep the Fall Holy Days? This is a video sermon. The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day?
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus? Should you? This is an article.
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? A related sermon video would be Feast of Trumpets and the Book of Life as well as The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It? What does the Bible say? What does this festival picture?
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
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? What do these days teach? A related sermon video is Feast of Tabernacles from Israel.
Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015 This is information on the planned Feast of Tabernacles’ sites for the Continuing Church of God in 2015. The Feast in 2015 begins the evening of September 27th.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

Sermon: Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies

Saturday, August 29th, 2015


Elijah in the wilderness

COGwriter

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

 

  • 1:12:45

Who was Elijah? Was John the Baptist Elijah? What about Elijah prophecies in the Bible? Is there an Elijah to come again? Are Elijah and Enoch currently alive in heaven waiting to return as two witnesses? How will heresies associated with Elijah affect Protestants and Catholics? Are there Elijah heresies related to the Church of God? Are there Elijah heresies related to the late Herbert W. Armstrong? Are any of the Elijah heresies blasphemous? How might Satan use some of the Elijah heresies? Dr. Thiel lists eight ‘Elijah heresies’ and explains five of them in this sermon.

Here is a link to this sermon: Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong? A related sermon is available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies.
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? There is also a sermon-length video titled How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God. Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Cómo determinar si alguien es un verdadero profeta de Dios?
Who Are The Two Witnesses? What is their job? What does the Bible reveal? What has the Church of God taught on this subject? Might even Roman Catholic prophecies give some clues here?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos as well as some ContinuingCOG channel sermons. It is also available as a mobile app.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

Pope Francis says teaching children the ‘Sign of the Cross’ is a ‘beautiful task’ for parents–but is it?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015


Russian Orthodox making the ‘sign of the cross’ (www.kremlin.ru)

COGwriter

Pope Francis said that parents need to teach children how to pray and use the ‘Sign of the Cross’:

August 26, 2015

Pope Francis stressed how sometimes he goes in the cities and makes a sad observation. ”There are children who have not learned how to make the Sign of the Cross! But you mommies, daddies, teach the little ones to pray, to make the Sign of the Cross: this is a beautiful task of moms and dads!”  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-to-parents-teach-your-little-ones-to-pray-make-sign-of-cross

Teaching the “Sign of the Cross” is NOT a beautiful task for parents.

Why not?

Well, it is not something that Jesus nor His original apostles did.

The first reference to any version of it being a practice among the Greco-Romans appears to be in the late second century.  Here is information from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

…the marking of a little cross seems to be the most ancient….”In all our travels and movements”, says Tertullian (De cor. Mil., iii), “in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross”. On the other hand this must soon have passed into a gesture of benediction, as many quotations from the Fathers in the fourth century would show. Thus St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his “Catecheses” (xiii, 36) remarks: “let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in every thing; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in goings; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are travelling, and when we are at rest”.  Thurston, Herbert. “Sign of the Cross.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 26 Aug. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm>.

Tertullian of Carthage wrote in the late second and early third century–that is the “most ancient” Catholic-related record.  Carthage was in Egypt, an area that adopted many heretical practices and attempted to combine them with a compromised faith.

As far as the more ‘modern’ “sign of the cross,” this developed later.  Here is information on that from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Epiphanius tells us (Adv. Hær., xxx, 12) of a certain holy man Josephus, who imparted to a vessel of water the power of overthrowing magical incantations by “making over the vessel with his finger the seal of the cross” pronouncing the while a form of prayer. Again half a century later Sozomen, the church historian (VII, xxvi), describes how Bishop Donatus when attacked by a dragon “made the sign of the cross with his finger in the air and spat upon the monster”. All this obviously leads up to the suggestion of a larger cross made over the whole body, and perhaps the earliest example which can be quoted comes to us from a Georgian source, possibly of the fourth or fifth century. In the life of St. Nino, a woman saint, honoured as the Apostle of Georgia, we are told in these terms of a miracle worked by her: “St. Nino began to pray and entreat God for a long time. Then she took her (wooden) cross and with it touched the Queen’s head, her feet and her shoulders, making the sign of the cross and straightway she was cured” (Studia Biblica, V, 32). It appears on the whole probable that the general introduction of our present larger cross (from brow to breast and from shoulder to shoulder) was an indirect result of the Monophysite controversy. … On the whole it seems probable that the ultimate prevalence of the larger cross is due to an instruction of Leo IV in the middle of the ninth century. “Sign the chalice and the host”, he wrote…

The Monophysite controversy was in the fifth century and it was in the ninth century that Rome somewhat officially endorsed the modern version of the ‘Sign of the Cross’ that Pope Francis wants parents to teach children.

Early faithful Christians did not make the ‘sign of the cross’ nor did they teach their children to do so.  Jesus was not even killed on a cross–He was killed on a tree/stake according to the New Testament (see also What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? ).

Perhaps, a few statements from the 19th century historian Alexander Hislop may also be helpful for some:

In the Papal system as is well known, the sign of the cross and the image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, no step almost can be taken, without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. The cross is looked upon as the grand charm, as the great refuge in every season of danger, in every hour of temptation as the infallible preservative from all the powers of darkness. The cross is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High and for any one to call it, in the hearing of a genuine Romanist, by the Scriptural term, “the accursed tree,” is a mortal offence. …

The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians–the true original form of the letter T–the initial of the name of Tammuz…That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, * and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol…To identify Tammuz with the sun it was joined sometimes to the circle of the sun; sometimes it was inserted in the circle…The mystic Tau, as the symbol of the great divinity, was called “the sign of life”; it was used as an amulet over the heart; it was marked on the official garments of the priests, as on the official garments of the priests of Rome; it was borne by kings in their hand, as a token of their dignity or divinely-conferred authority. The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. The Egyptians did the same, and many of the barbarous nations with whom they had intercourse, as the Egyptian monuments bear witness…The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses…

The first form of that which is called the Christian Cross, found on Christian monuments there, is the unequivocal Pagan Tau, or Egyptian “Sign of life.” Let the reader peruse the following statement of Sir G. Wilkinson: “A still more curious fact may be mentioned respecting this hieroglyphical character [the Tau], that the early Christians of Egypt adopted it in lieu of the cross, which was afterwards substituted for it, prefixing it to inscriptions in the same manner as the cross in later times. For, though Dr. Young had some scruples in believing the statement of Sir A. Edmonstone, that it holds that position in the sepulchres of the great Oasis, I can attest that such is the case, and that numerous inscriptions, headed by the Tau, are preserved to the present day on early Christian monuments.” The drift of this statement is evidently this, that in Egypt the earliest form of that which has since been called the cross, was no other than the “Crux Ansata,” or “Sign of life,” borne by Osiris and all the Egyptian gods; that the ansa or “handle” was afterwards dispensed with, and that it became the simple Tau, or ordinary cross, as it appears at this day, and that the design of its first employment on the sepulchres, therefore, could have no reference to the crucifixion of the Nazarene, but was simply the result of the attachment to old and long-cherished Pagan symbols, which is always strong in those who, with the adoption of the Christian name and profession, are still, to a large extent, Pagan in heart and feeling. This, and this only, is the origin of the worship of the “cross.” …

It is certain that the X was the symbol of the god Ham in Egypt, and as such was exhibited on the breast of his image. Whichever view be taken, however, of Constantine’s sincerity, the supposed Divine warrant for reverencing the sign of the cross entirely falls to the ground. In regard to the X, there is no doubt that, by the Christians who knew nothing of secret plots or devices, it was generally taken, as Lactantius declares, as equivalent to the name of “Christ.” In this view, therefore, it had no very great attractions for the Pagans, who, even in worshipping Horus, had always been accustomed to make use of the mystic tau or cross, as the “sign of life,” or the magical charm that secured all that was good, and warded off everything that was evil. When, therefore, multitudes of the Pagans, on the conversion of Constantine, flocked into the Church, like the semi-Pagans of Egypt, they brought along with them their predilection for the old symbol. The consequence was, that in no great length of time, as apostacy proceeded, the X which in itself was not an unnatural symbol of Christ, the true Messiah, and which had once been regarded as such, was allowed to go entirely into disuse, and the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah, was everywhere substituted in its stead.  (Hislop A. The Two Babylons. Chapter V, Section VI, The Sign of the Cross. pp. 197-201)

Some may question what Alexander Hislop wrote, but notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The sign of the cross, represented in its simplest form by a crossing of two lines at right angles, greatly antedates, in both the East and the West, the introduction of Christianity. It goes back to a very remote period of human civilization…

Early in the third century Clement of Alexandria (“Strom.”, VI, in P. G., IX, 305) speaks of the Cross as tou Kyriakou semeiou typon, i.e. signum Christi, “the symbol of the Lord” (St. Augustine, Tract. cxvii, “In Joan.”; De Rossi, “Bull. d’arch. crist”, 1863, 35, and “De titulis christianis Carthaginiensibus” in Pitra, “Spicilegium Solesmense”, IV, 503). The cross, therefore, appears at an early date as an element of the liturgical life of the faithful …Tertullian says: “Frontem crucis signaculo terimus” (De Cor. mil. iii), i.e. “We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross.” The practice was so general about the year 200, according to the same writer, that the Christians of his time were wont to sign themselves with the cross before undertaking any action. He says that it is not commanded in Holy Scripture…the custom of placing the crucifix over the altar does not date from earlier than the eleventh century. (Marucchi O. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Even  The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the sign of the cross predates Christianity.  In other words, it existed in paganism.  It simply was a compromise with paganism.  Some started to use it in the late second century A.D. and it got more acceptance after Emperor Constantine, a follower of the sun-god Mithras in the fourth century, promoted it.

While teaching about prayer is fine (see our free online booklet Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?), no one should teach their children to adopt pagan practices (cf. Deuteronomy 12:29-32).  Parents are to teach children God’s ways (cf. Deuteronomy 6:6-9; see also Five Rules for Effective Parenting).

Most who claim some tie to Roman Catholicism do not realize how much that church has changed. An article that documents this in great detail is available: Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?

I would add that it is not just Roman Catholics that made changes that disagree with the views of the original apostles. Some details are in the free online booklets Continuing History of the Church of God and Where is the True Christian Church Today?

Perhaps I should close this with the comment that prophecy indicates that the cross could be the Mark of the Beast.  This is another reason to consider the ramifications of what Pope Francis is now advocating.

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

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.
Mark of the Beast What is the mark of the Beast? Who is the Beast? What have various ones claimed the mark is? What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?
The Mark of Antichrist What is the mark of Antichrist? What have various ones claimed? Here is a link to a related sermon What is the ‘Mark of Antichrist’?
Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? This free booklet contains 28 biblically-based tips on improving the effectiveness of your prayers. This is a pdf. A related two part sermon is available: What Does the Bible Teach About Prayer? and What does the Bible Teach About Prayer (& Healing)?
Five Rules for Effective Parenting Do you know that there are five simple rules that can make you a more effective parent? Here is a link to a version in Mandarin Chinese 五条简单有效的子女养育规则. There is also a 12 1/2 minute English language YouTube video on this, also titled Five Rules for Effective Parenting.
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?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
Feast of the Immaculate Conception? Did early Christians teach Mary had an immaculate conception and led a sinless life?
Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From?
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?
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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?

Church history still affects people today

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

COGwriter

Many wonder how the churches of this world got that way. Mainly, it was because various ones had ideas that conflicted with the Bible, and many of those ideas ultimately got accepted by apparently billions throughout time.

Yet, Jesus taught that the true church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), hated by the world (Matthew 10:22), and persecuted (Matthew 10:23). He also taught only a few would find the way to eternal life in this age (Matthew 7:14; 20:16). The Apostle Jude indicates that the number of saints was relatively small (Jude 14), while the Apostle Paul called the small group a “remnant” (Romans 11:5). Most who profess Christ, however, simply do not want to accept what the New Testament teaches about the church.

This post will contain a fairly brief overview of some events that led to the current state (more details are in the free online booklet Continuing History of the Church of God).

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

Within the Roman Empire the religion of Mithraism was increasing in popularity while versions of Christianity also were. Some considered that the two religions were in competition with each other (though that was really only the case with the compromisers and the followers of Mithras). Mithras was a pagan sun-god. Many beliefs and practices associated with Mithraism started to rub-off on many who professed Christ in the second through fourth centuries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although many seem to accept blending of pagan ideas with their understanding of Christianity, this is not the way it was supposed to be. Notice, for one example, one of the accomplishments of Nehemiah:

I cleansed them of everything pagan. (Nehemiah 13:30)

However, many who professed Christ in the first few centuries did not share Nehemiah’s view as they included pagan concepts in their faith. Jesus Himself warned about adopting pagan practices of prayer (Matthew 6:7) and the Apostle Paul warned against adopting pagan festivals (2 Corinthians 6:14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21). Christians are not supposed to have the “spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 12:12) nor love its practices (1 John 2:15).

Despite biblical warnings, in the second century, one or more semi-gnostic schools developed in Alexandria, including the one headed by the semi-gnostic Clement of Alexandria and then Origen, whose teachings greatly influenced professing Christians in the Greco-Roman world. However, many of the teachings of the main school there have been condemned as heretical, even by Catholic and Protestant sources–and although many of the teachings had pagan ties, many who profess Christianity still have been influenced by them.

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

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

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

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

Around 244 A.D., one “Gregory the Wonder Worker” of Neocaeseria claimed to see apparitions and apparently had mystical powers (Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions). He has been trained by Origin. Through the combination of Gregory’s influence (cf. Isaiah 47:5-6,12), Imperial persecutions, the rise of the allegorists, and doctrinal compromise, changes occurred in Antioch and Asia Minor. Allegedly Gregory “could cast his cloak over a man, and cause his death…he could bring the presiding demons back to their shrine” (Roberts A, Donaldson J, Volume 20, p. 3). He apparently was scarily impressive.

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

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

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

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

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

The pagan Emperor Constantine allegedly saw a vision of the sun-god Sol in 310 and became more of a sun-god worshiper. Two years later, he claimed to have a dream with Jesus and within a day, a vision of a spear crossed with a sword. He ordered his soldiers to paint a cross-like image on their shields and fight.

Historians realize that this alleged apparition and dream, changed the course of world history. Emperor Constantine, himself, was thankful for these apparent apparitions and believed that this indicated that some things should change in his empire. Constantine ended up making the first Sunday law, issuing an edict against those who would not accept his compromised religion, greatly exalting the political power of Greco-Roman bishops, and massively increased idolatry and military service amongst unfaithful professors of Christ. He also took away certain Church of God properties and ordered the death penalty to Church of God Christians in Jerusalem that would not eat pork.

He is known as Constantine the Great by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics for legalizing and essentially mandating their compromised faith throughout the Roman Empire. Other doctrinal compromises occurred because of him and afterwards. 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 him declaring himself a lay “Christian” bishop by 325), years later, Emperor Constantine still put the sun god Sol on his coins.

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

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

Over time people, like the Protestant reformers, sometimes stood up against those who often relied on allegory and tradition in an attempt to reverse some of the false doctrines that dominated mainstream Christianity. However, even though they were successful in removing some non-biblical practices (such as many idols and icons), they often retained many of the doctrines that the Alexandrian and Roman churches had accepted (some of this is documented in the article The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong).

Many today, cannot accept the idea that the faithful would truly be a very small flock.

In the 21st century, many in the mainstream are also hoping to end division that they have and to attain ecumenical unity between the Catholics of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and with many of the Protestants–thinking that this is God’s will (here is a link to a video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?).

They, however, would do well to recall what Jesus said:

Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division (Luke 12:51).

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:24).

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14)

Hence, for any to suggest or imply that Jesus is behind the current ecumenical bent of many should be biblically questioned (also the Bible indicates when there is an essentially one-religion prior to the second coming of Christ, that it is not good–see Revelation 13:3-4,8-15)–the “many” are not to be able to enter the Kingdom in this age per Jesus’ words in Luke13:24 and elsewhere.

Thus, the true and genuine Church of God will be somewhat small, like the faithful Continuing Church of God.  The group that has restored more truth about true church history than any in the 21st century.

Teaching the truth about the Bible and history and the love of the word of God to the world in general and those called in this age in particular (Matthew 28:19-20) is the mission of the Continuing Church of God. You can click here for Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon videoed in Vatican City is 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? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.

What did the Apostle Paul really teach about the Ten Commandments?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

COGwriter

Many believe that the Apostle Paul somehow did away with the Ten Commandments, but is that what the Bible teaches? What did the Apostle Paul actually teach about them?

What Paul actually taught about the ten commandments are shown here in green.

There is only one only scripture that uses the “nailed it to the cross” expression (AV/NKJ), it is Colossians 2:13-14, in which Paul states, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross“. Were the ten commandments the “requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us”? Let us examine the scriptures to see.

Commandment 1: Paul said, “God, who made the world and everything in it…they should seek the Lord” (Acts 17:24,27). Paul also said, “I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law” (Acts 24:14). “But then indeed, when you did not know God, you served those things which by nature are not God” (Galatians 4:8). “And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?” (II Corinthians 6:16). “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9). “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Commandment 2: “we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols” (Acts 15:20). “Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols…Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said…’God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything‘” (Acts 17:16,22,24-25). “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is…an idolater” (I Corinthians 5:11). “Neither… idolators…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10). “And do not become idolaters as were some of them…Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (I Corinthians 10:7,14). “And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?” (II Corinthians 6:16). “Now the works of the flesh are evident…idolatry” (Galatians 5:19,20). “For this you know that no…idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “Therefore put to death…covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “you turned to God from idols” (I Thessalonians 1:9).

Commandment 3: “they are all under sin…Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:9,14). “Let all…evil speaking be put away from you” (Ephesians 4:31). “But now you yourselves are to put off all …blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). “they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:20). But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…blasphemers” (II Timothy 3:1,2).

Commandment 4: “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures…And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 17:2;18:4 see also 13:14,27,42,44). “let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28) and “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: ‘If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat‘” (II Thessalonians 3:10); (recall that the requirement to work is also part of the Sabbath command, thus even that portion of the commandment is repeated in the New Testament.) “And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?” (Hebrews 3:18). “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’” (Hebrews 4:4). “There remains therefore a rest (literally sabbatismos, ‘Sabbath rest’) for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10).

Commandment 5: “being filled with all unrighteousness…disobedient to parents” (Romans 1:29,30). “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). “the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6). “Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…disobedient to parents” (II Timothy 3:1,2).

Commandment 6: “being filled with all unrighteousness…murder” (Romans 1:29). “You shall not murder” (Romans 13:9). “Now the works of the flesh are evident…murders” (Galatians 5:19,21). “the lawless and insubordinate…murders…manslayers” (I Timothy 1:9).

Commandment 7: “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality” (Romans 1:29). “So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress” (Romans 7:3). “You shall not commit adultery” (Romans 13:9). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral” (I Corinthians 5:11). “Neither… adulterers, nor homosexuals…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (I Corinthians 6:18). Nor let us commit sexual immorality as some of them did” (I Corinthians 10:8). “Now the works of the flesh are evident…adultery, fornication” (Galatians 5:19). “For this you know that no fornicator…has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “the lawless and insubordinate…fornicators…sodomites” (I Timothy 1:9,10). “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

Commandment 8: “You shall not steal” (Romans 13:9). “nor thieves…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10). “I have been…in perils of robbers” (II Corinthians 11:25-26). “Let him who stole, steal no longer” (Ephesians 4:28).

Commandment 9: “You shall not bear false witness” (Romans 13:9). ‘I do not lie” (Galatians 1:19). “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). “Do not lie to one another” (Colossians 3:9). “the lawless and insubordinate…liars…perjurers” (I Timothy 1:9,10). “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy” (I Timothy 4:1-2). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…slanderers” (II Timothy 3:1,3). “God, who cannot lie” (Ti 1:2). “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).

Commandment 10: “being filled with all unrighteousness…covetousness” (Romans 1:29).”You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7). “You shall not covet” (Romans 13:9). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is…covetous” (I Corinthians 5:11). “nor covetous…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10). “we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted” (I Corinthians 10:6). “you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). “For this you know that no fornicator…nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “Therefore put to death…covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness” (I Thessalonians 2:5). “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

Notice that Paul clearly warns about not keeping each of the ten commandments.

Paul also wrote “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). He also warned that those who break various of the ten commandments will not inherit the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:4-5) and then said, “Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of the things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7).

Some have been confused about some of Paul’s writings, but as Peter warned, “Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of the things in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures” (II Pet 3:15-16). Perhaps the most confusing to some is, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle the wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

It is clear that Paul could not be talking about the ten commandments as he mentions parts of at least eight of them as still being in existence in the same book (see above, the other two are alluded to as well, Ephesians 5:31–anger, which is like murder according to Jesus; plus the comment about being a prisoner of the Lord also would show the first commandment, Ephesians 4:1)

While some may try to reason around what Paul wrote, it is a fact that early Christians did believe that they needed to keep the Ten Commandments (for detailed proof, see The Ten Commandments and the Early Church). And real Christians believe that today.

Some items of possible interest may include:

The Apostle Paul He was an apostle, early Christian leader, and wrote more books of the New Testament than anyone else. Do you know much about him?
GALATIANS Comments on Galatians Did the Apostle Paul do away with God’s law as some claim the Book of Galatians teaches? What is the false gospel? Related sermon videos related to Galatians are available: Galatians 1 and the False Gospel and Galatians 2 & 3: What Law was Added? What was Abolished? and Galatians 4 & 5: Who Does Not Inherit the Kingdom? and Galatians 5 & 6: The Gifts of the Spirit.
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments? Many say Paul taught against the ten commandments. Is this true? This article quotes Paul with his words in green.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught? For a more detailed discussion of the first four commandments, please see the video The Ten Commandments: Loving God. For a more detailed discussion of the last six commandments, please see: The Ten Commandments: Loving Your Neighbor. Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 十条诫命显示爱,违反诫命的就是邪恶的
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
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?

Mark, Venice, and ‘apostolic succession’

Monday, August 17th, 2015

The Casket Claimed to be that of Mark of Alexandria in Venice (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

My wife Joyce and I have gotten to visit St. Mark’s Square and the related church in Venice, Italy on several occasions.

People in Venice actually have been told, and often believe, that they have the body of Mark, the Gospel writer. Essentially, the old Venetians stole a body from Alexandria, Egypt centuries ago, that the Alexandrians claimed was Mark, the writer of the Gospel bearing his name.

Here is the story behind one of the mosaics at the square:

The mosaic (said to be of Saint Alipio) that overlooks the first portal on the right hand side dates back to 1260. It tells the story of two merchants: Rustico from Torcello and Bruno from Malamocco who in 828 secretly stole the body of San Marco from Alessandria (Egypt). From the picture you can see the two merchants avoid the Muslim guards by hiding the body of St Mark underneath pork meat,( food considered dirty according to Islam) and calling out ‘canzir’ that in Arabic means pork. The disgusted guards reacted by not inspecting the load, enabling the corpse to be taken aboard the ship that set sail immediately for Venice. http://www.tours-italy.com/venice-about-st_marks_basilica.htm

Some believe that the arrival of the corpse of “Mark” in Venice fulfilled a private prophecy, which is one reason that this is accepted. Some believe that the idea that Mark indirectly founded Venice by founding a bishopric in Aquileia. This seems to be based upon legends found in eighth century writings (Sethre J. The souls of Venice. McFarland, 2003, p. 28). Because of these legends, the Venetians claim that the gospel writer Mark founded their church (the Alexandrians also claim Mark).

As far as the ‘prophecy’ of Mark’s body goes, here is one account of it:

In the “legend of predestination,” ratified by Andrea Dandolo, Mark of the Gospel becomes Mark of Venice. An angel brings him a message while he pauses amidst the Venetian marshes. at the very site where Rivus Altus/Venice will rise centuries later: “Pax tibi, Marce, evangelista meus.” The message foresees Mark’s spiritual presence in the city. The arrival of his relics in 828 “confirms” the truth of that prophecy. (Sethre J. The souls of Venice. McFarland, 2003, p. 28).

Whether or not Mark was in Venice, many believe the Venetians taking of a body in Alexandria fulfills this prophecy. Yet, as will be discussed later, Mark’s body was not actually in Alexandria, thus in the physical sense, the prophecy is clearly false.

Some Religious History of Venice

Those in the Patriarchate of Venice believe that the gospel writer Mark may have visited some of the outlying islands or at least one he ordained came to their area. Notice also the following:

The Venetian islands at first belonged to the diocese of Altino or the diocese of Padua, under jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Aquileia, believed to be the successor of St. Mark.

It is certain that during the Lombard invasion (568-572) many bishops of the invaded mainland escaped under protection of the Byzantine fleet in the eastern lagoons. The Archbishop himself took refuge in Grado, where he was claimed as Patriarch, during the schism of the Three Chapters. At the end of the invasion, many of the ancient diocese of the mainland were restored by the Lombards, while the Exiles supported the new sees in the lagoons. Two patriarchs emerged from the war and from the schism (at least solved in 698): Patriarchate of Old-Aquileia on the mainland and Patriarchate of Grado…

774. In that year, with the consent of pope Adrian I and the Patriarch of Grado John IV, an episcopal see was erected on the island of Olivolo (afterwards called Castello) with jurisdiction over Gemini, Rialto, Luprio and Dorsoduro. The first bishop, Obelerius, was invested and enthroned by the Doge of Venice, Maurice Galbaio, and ordained by the Patriarch. After Obelerius’ death, the doge named Christopher from Damiata in 798, a member of the Greek party (that is, the partisans of the Eastern Emperor). Patriarch John, a member of the Frankish party (the partisans of Charlemagne) refused to consecrate him, due to his extreme youth. A subsequent confrontation led to the murder of Patriarch John. John was succeeded by his nephew Fortunato from Trieste, who placed himself under the protection of the Frank-Lombard Kingdom and to a confused period, during which the chair of Olivolo was a long struggle. The same Duchy was invaded by the Franks, that besieged the (political) Metamaucus and were defeated and expelled only in 810. The victorious Greek party, led by the new ducal family of Parteciaci, in 812 moved the ducal see from Metamaucus to the more secure Rialto, at the center of the lagoon. A new city was created by the merger of the central islands, including Olivolo: that city was Venice. Finally, after the death of Patriarch Fortunato in 825, Orso, son of the doge John I Pateciacus, became bishop of the city. Under him, the relics of the Evangelist St. Mark were transferred from the Muslim dominated Alexandria of Egypt and brought to Venice…

In 1074 Bishop Henry, from the noble family of Contarini, was the first to bear the title of Bishop of Castello, indicating the complete merger of the island of Olivolo with Venice…Patriarchs of Grado began to reside in Venice more and more until in 1105 they definitely transferred to the city, with their own church at St. Silvestrus. For the next three centuries, three bishops resided in Venice: the Patriarch of Grado, the Primicerius of St. Mark and the Bishop of Castello, each one with his own jurisdiction.

The city gathered relics, especially from the East, and especially after the conquest of Constantinople. After 1204, the icon of the Madonna called Nicopoeia, which is still in St. Mark’s, arrived. (Patriarch of Venice, Wikipedia, viewed 06/09/13)

The diocese of Venice was basically created in 774 as suffragan of the Patriarchate of Grado. It is alleged that because the Venetians did not wish to have to fully accept papal authority that they decided to take the alleged body of Mark from the Eastern Orthodox of Alexandria Egypt. At this time, the “Great Schism” of 1054 (which is how the Eastern Orthodox describe it had not happened yet, and Rome officially still recognized their claimed sees).

This seemed to work for the Venetians for a while, especially when they were in the height of their power (they basically had a monopoly on making clear glass for some time, which made them fairly wealthy). But they eventually reunited with Rome.

In 1457, basically because in consideration of the political influence of the city, its bishops were accorded the title of patriarch by the Pope.

Within the Latin Church, Rome recognizes five Latin sees, including the Diocese of Rome. The others, which it accords the title of Patriarchate, also include Venice, Lisbon, the East Indies, and Jerusalem.

By tradition, the Patriarch of Venice is created a cardinal at the consistory following his appointment, although the Pope is not bound by law to do this. So, basically the Venetians feel special and have more influence than the average Catholic diocese.

The fact that Mark was not part of a faith that would have encourage the collection and adoration of relics does not seem to bother the Venetians.

Mark, the Alexandrians, and the Body

As far as Mark being the bishop of the Alexandrians, that is simply not true. The fact that it is at best highly questionable has long been known by the Church of Rome. Notice what the old The Catholic Encyclopedia taught:

A widespread, if somewhat late, tradition represents St. Mark as the founder of the Church of Alexandria. Though strangely enough Clement and Origen make no reference to the saint’s connection with their city…the chronology of the Apostolic age is admittedly uncertain, and that we have no earlier authority than Eusebius for the date of the foundation of the Alexandrian Church, we may perhaps conclude with more probability that it was founded somewhat later…the New Testament is silent in regard to St. Mark, for his activity in Egypt. (MacRory, Joseph. “St. Mark.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 17 Aug. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09672c.htm>)

A “late tradition” means that it was likely made up over a century later. The fact is that the biblical Mark could not have been the first “Bishop of Alexandria,” and probably did not even visit Alexandria. Origen wrote so much that it is almost inconceivable that he would not have pointed to a biblical connection to Alexandria, if one actually existed. The fact that the New Testament does not mention Mark in Egypt (but instead mentions him in many other places) should show that there are major problems with the later tradition. Despite the facts, in late 2012, the then Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria as the “See of Saint Mark,” which it could not be (Pope Benedict’s Message to His Holiness Tawadros II. From the Vatican 11/14/12;. Zenit.org, November 19, 2012).

Perhaps it should also be noted that the body that is in Venice now is not even certain to be the body that was taken from Alexandria as the Venetians lost it. Here is an explanation:

In 1063, during the construction of a new basilica in Venice, St. Mark’s relics could not be found. However, according to tradition, in 1094 the saint himself revealed the location of his remains by extending an arm from a pillar. The newfound remains were placed in a sarcophagus in the basilica. Copts believe that the head of St. Mark remains in a church named after him in Alexandria, and parts of his relics are in St. Mark’s Cairo’s Cathedral. (Wikipedia, viewed 06/03/2013)

Thus, the body is at best incomplete. It is not Mark’s body, and even what is there now may have been just thrown together from some bones not even from Alexandria. Mark is dead and in his grave and he did not appear to tell the Venetians were some of his body parts were.

It is not possible according to the scriptural accounts, for Mark to have been the Bishop of Alexandria when the Alexandrians (and Copts) claim that he was. Those who falsely believe that (and those that falsely believe a lot of other theological lies) would not have that problem if they would truly heed Jesus’ words:

31 “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Allegory and fable is not on the same level as the literal truth of the word of God.

Mark is Not Mentioned as Being in Alexandria or Venice in the Bible

Since Mark is mentioned many times in the New Testament (never with the title of apostle or Bishop), the apparent dates and events in the Bible that mention Mark demonstrate that Mark could not have been the Bishop of Alexandria at that time. The Bible clearly shows that Mark was in, or traveling to, many other places. The area of Venice is not mentioned either, though it is theoretically more possible that Mark could have visited Venice than been Bishop of Alexandria.

As far as Mark and his locations, around 43-44 A.D., Mark is mentioned first in Acts 12:12, when he is praying in Jerusalem. Herod is noted as dying in Acts 12:20-23, which was in 44 A.D. (Radmacher, p. 1813). Sometime after Herod’s death, notice:

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

Thus, Mark was in Jerusalem and then went with Paul and Barnabas.

In A.D. 46, Mark spent time with Paul and Barnabas in the Antioch Church before he accompanied them as a helper on their first missionary journey.

Mark apparently went with Paul and Barnabas from around 47-49 A.D.

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

37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus (Acts 15:37-39).

Notice that Paul considered Mark unfaithful, and that Mark then went to the island of Cyprus (not Alexandria). There is no way anyone should have considered the unfaithful Mark to have been a faithful “apostle” at that time, around 50-53 A.D.

Later, Paul apparently changed his mind about Mark.

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

This occurred around 60 A.D. and Mark is believed to have been with Paul in Rome then. He could have possibly past by the islands near Venice then, but the Bible does not specify.

Around 64-67 A.D., Paul declared that Mark was useful:

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

It should be noted that the Bible never mentions that Mark was ever in Alexandria, and gives no indication that he was a “bishop” over any area.

Instead, the biblical account clearly contradicts the position of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria that Mark was its bishop from 42-62 A.D. as Mark was in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Cyprus, and other areas during this time. Plus, according to various historians, he was still alive in 67 A.D.

Also notice what other scholars have noted:

… Alexandria, the second home of Judaism, occupies no place in the development of the Church as depicted for us in the Acts. (Ramsay WM. The Church in the Roman Empire before A.D. 170. (London, 1893.) as cited/discussed in Studies in early church history: collected papers. C.H. Turner,editor, Clarendon Press, 1912, p. 165)

Alexandria and Mark’s connection to it should have been in the Book of Acts if Alexandria was founded and led by him.

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

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

2. And the multitude of believers, both men and women, that were collected there at the very outset, and lived lives of the most philosophical and excessive asceticism was so great, that Philo thought it worth while to describe their pursuits, their meetings, their entertainments, and their whole manner of life. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book II, Chapter XVI, Verses 1-2, p. 33)

When Nero was in the eighth year of his reign, Annianus succeeded Mark the evangelist in the administration of the parish of Alexandria ( Ibid, Chapter 24, p. 42).

It should be noted that Eusebius’ source or conclusion regarding Annianus/Anianos seems to be in error. The eighth year of Nero’s reign would be 61-62 A.D. and the Orthodox does claim that Anianos was a bishop there from 62 A.D.

However, this would seem to be a historical problem if he succeeded Mark upon his death.

Why?

Because according to Peter, Mark was alive when Peter wrote 1 Peter 5:13, which states:

13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son…

Furthermore, according to Irenaeus (c. 175 A.D.), Mark was alive after Peter died:

Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter…(Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book III, Chapter 1, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), p. 414.)

While it is not certain that Peter actually preached in Rome, if Irenaeus is correct that Mark functioned as Peter’s interpreter and later wrote after the death of Peter, then it would seem that Mark could not have died before 67 A.D., nor could he have been functioning as the Bishop of Alexandria. Thus, if there was an “Apostle” Mark in Alexandria in the 1st century, he would have been a false apostle and not the Mark who the New Testament discusses.

Probably little of this mattered to the old Venetians. They basically wanted to pretend enough to be Catholic that the Church of Rome could not brand them as heretics or apostates worthy of punishment. Having a body and claiming to have been related to Mark was politically-expedient. And whether or not this was a factor, for a long time the Church of Rome left Venice basically alone.

Pope Francis, however, teaches that Mark was the one that the Alexandrians, and thus by semi-extension Venice, had apostolic succession from (see Pope Francis’ appeal to Pope Tawadros II should concern Catholics and others).

Doctrines That Mark Would Have Held Should Matter

Of course, the gospel writer Mark would have had doctrines that the faithful and real Christians had.

Notice something that Mark was inspired to write:

19…Jesus…27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:19, 27-28)

But the neither the Venetians nor the Alexandrians keep the seventh-day Sabbath as Jesus and Mark would have.

Mark was also inspired to write:

11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that

‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.’” (Mark 4:11-12)

30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)

But the neither the Venetians nor the Alexandrians teach or understand about the mystery of the kingdom of God nor the real meaning of the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

To a great degree, the Venetians and Alexandrians hold to tradition about scripture in many areas. Jesus noted the same problem in His day, as Mark was inspired to report:

6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men — the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”

9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mark 7:6-9)

Notice also the following that Mark reported:

12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”

13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”

16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.

17 In the evening He came with the twelve. (Mark 14:12-18)

That Passover was on the fourteenth of Nisan as nearly all scholars will admit. But that day was condemned by the Greco-Roman faiths, yet Mark would have kept it. Yet, those associated with the Venetians and Alexandrians do not.

The following also would have been doctrines that Mark would have held to that the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Venice do not hold:

Baptism was by immersion and did not include infants.
A Binitarian view, that acknowledged the Holy Spirit, was held by the apostolic and post-apostolic true Christian leaders.
Birthdays were not celebrated by early Christians.
Born-Again meant being born at the resurrection, not at the time of conversion.
Celibacy for Bishops/Presbyters/Elders was not a requirement.
Christmas was not observed by any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings. Here is a link to a related sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?
Confession of sins were not made to priests and did not require penance. A related sermon is Confess to God and truly repent.
Duties of Elders/Pastors were pastoral and theological, not predominantly sacramental–nor did they dress as many now do.
Easter per se was not observed by the apostolic church.
The Fall Holy Days were observed by true early Christians.
Heaven was not taught to be the reward of Christians. Here is a link to a related sermon: Heaven and Christianity.
Holy Spirit was not referred to as God or as a person by any early true Christians.
Idols were taught against, including adoration of the cross.
Immortality of the soul or humans was not taught. Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
The Kingdom of God was preached. You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Leavened Bread was removed from the homes of early Christians when the Jews did the same. See also the video : Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Lent was not observed by the primitive church.
Limbo was not taught by the original church.
Military Service was not allowed for true early Christians. A related sermon would be: Christians, Violence, and Military Service.
Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians. A related sermon is titled The Millennium.
Monasticism was unheard of in the early Christian church.
Passover was kept on the 14th of Nisan by apostolic and second century Christians in Asia Minor. There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
Pentecost was kept on Sunday by certain Jews and was observed then by professing Christians. Here is a YouTube sermon titled Pentecost: Feast of Firstfruits.
Purgatory was not taught by the original apostolic church.
Salvation was believed to be offered to the chosen now by the early Church, with others being called later, though not all that taught that (or other doctrines) practiced “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
God’s Six Thousand Year Plan for humankind to rule itself was believed by early professors of Christ. There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up?
Sunday was not observed by the apostolic and original post-apostolic Christians.
Tithes and Offerings were given to support the ministry, the churches, the needy, and evangelical travels and gospel proclamation.
Tradition had some impact on the second century Christians, but was never supposed to supercede the Bible.
The Trinity was not a word used to describe the Godhead by the apostolic or second century Christians, though a certain threeness was acknowledged.
The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats Are foods considered to have been unclean in the Old Testament considered to be food in the New Testament? This article discusses this from the perspective of the New Testament. It also has a list of clean and unclean animals. It also answers the question, is pork healthy or is pork dangerous? There is also a sermon-length video on this: Christians and Unclean Meats.

The fact that the Alexandrians and Venetians of the Middle Ages did not have the same teachings or practices of the gospel writer Mark probably did not matter to the Venetians of old either.

Sadly, the fact that those associated with the Venetian and Alexandrian patriarchs today do not hold them either should give them pause to consider that if Mark was their founder, how can they claim that if they do not do what he would have done or believe as he did.

Why is any of this important to Christians?

There are basically two reasons.

The first is the reality is that the so-called ‘apostolic sees” of the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox claim simply do not hold to the teachings of the original apostles, hence none truly have ‘apostolic succession.’

The fact that there origins are often, directly or indirectly (such as the non-fulfilled ‘prophecy” about Mark returning to Venice), based on false or implausible information should show all that they do not have “the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

The second is that we who have that “love of the truth” need to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, KJV) as to why we do not except the improper Greco-Roman versions of church doctrine or history. The truth of church history needs to be restored and brought to light (cf. Matthew 5:14-16; 17:11).

The time is coming when the Beast power will rise up and, at first, I expect that he and his supporters will give lip service to the idea of the Greco-Roman apostolic sees as partial proof why they, and not groups like the Continuing Church of God have ties to apostolic Christianity. They will be wrong, of course. But we of the faithful need to be able to explain why they are wrong and that is part of why I posted this about the claimed ‘see’ of Venice.

Only those who have the same teachings and practices of the apostles can possibly have true apostolic succession.

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation.
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?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Pope Francis, the Assumption of Mary, and the Assumption of Diana

Saturday, August 15th, 2015


The ‘Mary’ in the Basilica of Mary Major That Pope Francis Prays Before (Photo by Joyce Thiel, June 2013)

COGWriter

August 15th is a holiday known as the Assumption of Mary.  It is not a day that the early Christian church observed.

Today, Pope Francis observed it:

August 15, 2015

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, Pope Francis became the first Pope in more than 60 years to lead the Angelus for the Solemnity of the Assumption in Saint Peter’s Square. …

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted the many pilgrims from Rome and around the world, and spontaneously invited them to pay a visit to the icon of Our Lady Salus populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman people) in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/08/15/pope_celebrates_assumption_angelus_at_st_peters_square/1165268

In Roman Catholicism it is now a Marian dogma that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven (while most early writings indicated that she died first, some teach that she did not–whether or not she was dead or alive is not currently part of the dogma).

The Catholic News Agency teaches:

4) The Assumption…This dogma has no direct basis in scripture. (The Four Marian Dogmas. Catholic News Agency, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=424 viewed 08/26/11)

One Catholic writer noted:

Many people, even Catholics, don’t believe in the assumption of Mary. (Rozett E. Mother Mary and the Goddess. http://www.interfaithmary.com/pages/mary_rosary.html, viewed 08/15/2011)

The belief in the “Assumption of Mary”–the teaching that she perhaps did not die but went directly to heaven (or was her body was “assumed” into heaven at or after death)–is based on assumption, mysticism, and apparently compromise.

Saint Mary’s tomb has been claimed to have been in both Jerusalem and Ephesus, which suggests, at least, that it was believed that she died and was buried.

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits:

Regarding the day, year, and manner of Our Lady’s death, nothing certain is known…The dates assigned for it vary between three and fifteen years after Christ’s Ascension. Two cities claim to be the place of her departure: Jerusalem and Ephesus. Common consent favours Jerusalem, where her tomb is shown; but some argue in favour of Ephesus. The first six centuries did not know of the tomb of Mary at Jerusalem. The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John, which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis, falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite.(Holweck, Frederick. “The Feast of the Assumption.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 26 Aug. 201114 Aug. 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02006b.htm>)

So, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia the basis for the “belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal” texts which were claimed to be written by people (like the Apostle John and Melito of Sardis) who did not write them. This makes no sense as a source for any dogma people would hold to be true. Also, if the body of Mary was “assumed” into heaven 3-15 years after Christ’s ascension in the Book of Acts, then why is it not mentioned in sacred scripture? All the books of the New Testament were written at least 5 years after Jesus’ ascension and the last book (Revelation) was apparently written over 60 years later–hence if this is a doctrine that God wanted His people to accept, why is it not specifically mentioned in the Bible? The Catholic writer Epiphanius, in the late fourth century, wrote:

Perhaps this [Rev. 12:13-14] can be applied to her; I cannot decide for certain, and I am not saying that she remained immortal. But neither am I saying that she died. (Panarion of Epiphanius, 78.11.4. As cited in Shoemaker S. The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption. Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 12)

Notice what a Catholic translation of the scripture Epiphanius referred to actually states:

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman, who brought forth the man child: 14 And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (Revelation 12:13-14, DRB).

Notice that “the woman” goes to “the desert” and “here she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time”. Heaven is NOT a desert. Also understand that Catholic scholars tend to correctly believe that the expression “a time and times, and half a time” refers to 3 1/2 years in this passage (and even if that was in error, this is a finite period of time, not nearly two thousand years). Thus, it makes no sense that Revelation 12:13-14 could possibly apply to Mary. Epiphanius should have been able to decide for certain that it did not, around 400 years after she was born. It should be clear that the idea of Mary’s “assumption” was not a dogmatic belief centuries after she would likely have been expected to have died.

Of course, the Bible was clear in the mid-late 1st century that only Jesus had immortality:

13 I charge thee before God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate, a good confession, 14 That thou keep the commandment without spot, blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Which in his times he shall shew who is the Blessed and only Mighty, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, and inhabiteth light inaccessible, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and empire everlasting. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:13-16, DRB)

The above was written in approximately 63 A.D. (Ryrie Study Bible, p. 1847). That is more than 3-15 years after Jesus’s ascension, and if Mary had obtained immortality by then, Saint Paul should have mentioned that, but he did not.

Now I have often used the Catholic-approved Douay-Rheims translation in this article to show that these ideas have support even within Catholic-approved writings. If Mary was immortal then, then the Apostle Paul would not have been inspired to write that.

Concerning Mary, the Catholic saint Augustine wrote of “her death” (Augustine. Tractates on the Gospel of John (Augustine) > Tractate 8, Chapter 9. Translated by John Gibb. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701008.htm>). Thus, the idea of Mary dying was an old concept.

So where did the idea of Mary’s assumption come from? Basically, from apocryphal literature in the fourth century (or possibly as early as the late third century)–but mainly even later than that. Although Epiphanius tried to investigate it, he was uncertain as to when it really first developed.

Interestingly, the ancient Romans had a 1-3 day festival for the goddess Diana. On the first day she allegedly came to earth and on the third day, August 15, they apparently celebrated her assumption into heaven as the queen of heaven. This is the same day of the Catholic feast of the assumption of Mary. Some do not consider this to be coincidental. (Green CMC. Roman religion and the cult of Diana at Aricia, Volume 0, Issues 521-85150. Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 62; Frazer JG. The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings V1, Volume 1. Kessinger Publishing, 2006, pp. 14-17). Notice also the following:

Lena Gorve’s name has symbolic significance, identifying her with Diana of Nemi, Diana of the Woods whose sacred groce stood on the lake of Nemi. The fact that the festival of Diana of Nemi gave place to the festival of the Assumption of the Virgin on August 15 offers an obvious basis in the combination of Lena of pagan qualities and of attributes associated with the Virgin Mary. (Kerr E. William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha: “a Kind of Keystone in the Universe.” Fordham Univ Press, 1985, p. 61)

The Assumption of the Virgin is set for the 15th of August. This day is marked in the Roman calendar of Columella as that of the death or disappearance of Virgo. (Hillard K. The Black Madonna of Loreto. Atlantic Monthly, September 1889, p. 412)

Diana was known as the “revered virgin” (Fischer-Hansen T, Poulsen B. From Artemis to Diana: the goddess of man and beast. Museum Tusculanum Press, 2009, p. 56) and “the Lady Artemis” (Davidson HE. Roles of the northern goddess. Psychology Press, 1998, p. 18); also as ”the virgin” (Morford MPO, Lenardon RJ. Classical mythology, 6th edition. Oxford University Press US, 1999, p. 141).

There is a suspected connection between Diana and various other goddesses and how many view Mary (Fischer-Hansen, p. 49). Yet, the Catholic saint Augustine specifically referred to Diana as one of several “false and lying deities” (Augustine. The Harmony of the Gospels, Book I, Chapter 25. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602125.htm>). Hence, it would seem wise that Catholics consider the wisdom in observing the date of her claimed assumption into heaven.

Mary’s “assumption” apparently became more of an issue after the death of Mohammed. Wikipedia notes:

John of Damascus, from this period, is the first church authority to advocate the doctrine under his own name; he had been brought up in an environment in which a corporeal ascent of Muhammed into heaven was official policy, since he, and his father before him, held the post of imperial chancellor of the Islamic empire of the Umayyads, and Muhammed’s ascent into heaven is the subject of the Night Journey, a Surah in the Quran. His contemporaries, Gregory of Tours and Modestus of Jerusalem, helped promote the concept to the wider church.

So, it may be that the assumption became a Catholic-equivalent of not only the pagan Diana, but the Muslim Muhammed. Furthermore, perhaps I should mention that Muslims teach that Muhammed’s daughter Fatima also was assumed into heaven. Some have considered that how certain Muslims venerate Fatima is very similar to how some Catholics venerate Mary.

Of course, since Mary is mentioned in the Quran, there is some Islamic veneration of her as well.

A Catholic writer posted:

The occasion and the site are sacred to Muslims and Christians alike. Every Sunday at least some Muslims come here before ‘Hazreti Meryem Ana’, Her Majesty Mother Mary and attend mass.

(Rozett E. Mother Mary and the Goddess. http://www.interfaithmary.com/pages/mary_Islam.html, viewed 08/15/2011)

Apparently because the Muslims claimed that Muhammed (and Fatima), and Greco-Romans that the goddess Diana, went directly to heaven, certain Catholics began to promote the idea about Mary in a widespread manner.

However, it should be pointed out that even the place of the “assumption” changed. Wikipedia reports:

In some versions of the story the event is said to have taken place in Ephesus, in the House of the Virgin Mary, although this is a much more recent and localized tradition. The earliest traditions all locate the end of Mary’s life in Jerusalem…

So, the earliest accounts claimed Jerusalem, but that was later changed to Ephesus by some. If Mary died 3-15 years after Jesus, then she likely did not die in the area near Ephesus. Another article in The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions:

As to tradition, there is some testimony for Mary’s temporary residence in or near Ephesus, but the evidence for her permanent home in Jerusalem is much stronger… In Panaghia Kapoli, on a hill about nine or ten miles distant from Ephesus, was discovered a house, or rather its remains, in which Mary is supposed to have lived. The house was found, as it had been sought, according to the indications given by Catherine Emmerich in her life of the Blessed Virgin… In 451 Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, testified to the presence of Mary’s tomb in Jerusalem…Another witness for the existence of a tradition placing the tomb of Mary in Gethsemani is the basilica erected above the sacred spot, about the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century… It has been seen that we have no absolute certainty as to the place in which Mary lived after the day of Pentecost. Though it is more probable that she remained uninterruptedly in or near Jerusalem, she may have resided for a while in the vicinity of Ephesus, and this may have given rise to the tradition of her Ephesian death and burial. There is still less historical information concerning the particular incidents of her life. (Maas, Anthony. “The Blessed Virgin Mary.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 26 Aug. 201114 Aug. 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15464b.htm>)

Of course, the presence of a tomb suggests that one was buried within it, not assumed directly to heaven. Others have claimed her body left the tomb:

In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.” (Stevens C, Priest. Assumption of Mary. Catholic Heritage, July-August 1996. http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/aofmary.htm)

S. Shoemaker also claims that the earliest accounts of the assumption state it occurred in Jerusalem, but later Ephesus:

Nevertheless, the earliest evidence of any such belief appears only in the ninth century, in a Syriac manuscript, copied in 874 which reports that Mary accompanied John to Ephesus, where she died and was buried. (Shoemaker S. The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption. Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 75)

The idea that Mary’s house was specifically in Ephesus allegedly began to gain acceptance because of visions that the mystic nun Anne Catherine Emmerich claimed to have had in the early 19th century. Because of her visions,one or more priests went to Ephesus and found a house apparently matching her descriptions (Shoemaker, p. 76). Some in the local area confirmed the location as Mary’s last house. And while some may claim that is proof it was Mary’s home, I should also add that Anne Catherine Emmerich claimed to have seen Limbo in her visions, yet the current Pontiff (Benedict XVI) has indicated that there is no such place as Limbo (What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die?). Despite this, on October 3, 2004 Anne Catherine Emmerich was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

But irrespective of what location may have been “Mary’s house,” the historical accuracy of the “assumption of Mary,” is at best an assumption that seems to contradict scripture. Although some have claimed that the apostles originally reported “the assumption” there do not appear to be any pre-fourth century documents that state this (and even the “apostolic claim” was from testimony in the mid-fifth century by Juvenal, see The Catholic Encyclopedia Assumption of Mary).

The assumption position mainly seems to be have been accepted because people want to believe it as opposed to basing it upon reliable historical documentation:

In view of the striking absence of early historical evidence, the Vatican proceeded to establish the Assumption dogma primarily on a dogmatic rather than a historical basis. It was determined that despite the complete lack of any historical evidence for early belief in the Virgin’s Assumption, the dogma should still be proclaimed…(Shoemaker S. The Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption. Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 15)

Wikipedia also noted:

Protestant theologians…cite the fact that the idea did not gain acceptance in the church until the sixth century, after Gregory of Tours accepted the apocryphal work “Transitus Beatae Mariae”…Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott stated, “The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus-narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries…. The first Church author to speak of the bodily assumption of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours.”…The Catholic writer Eamon Duffy goes further, conceding that “there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it.”…

In Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma he states that “the fact of her death is almost generally accepted by the Fathers and Theologians, and is expressly affirmed in the Liturgy of the Church”, to which he adduces a number of helpful citations, and concludes that “for Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary’s body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death”…The point of her bodily death has not been infallibly defined, and many believe that she did not die at all, but was assumed directly into Heaven. The dogmatic definition within the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus which, according to Roman Catholic dogma, infallibly proclaims the doctrine of the Assumption leaves open the question whether, in connection with her departure, Mary underwent bodily death; that is, it does not dogmatically define the point one way or the other, as shown by the words “having completed the course of her earthly life”…Many Catholics also believe that Mary first died before being assumed, but they add that she was miraculously resurrected before being assumed…This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

The holiday, then, is an assumption based upon mystic literature like the Transitus Mariae, essentially combined with a dogmatic declaration in 1950.

Now, the Transitus Mary was allegedly an account from an apparition claiming to be Mary. Yet, Catholics need to realize that in the early 6th century, a papal decree, Decretum Gelasianum, classified the Transitus Mariae writings as apocryphal (The Transitus Mariae Non-canonical Account of Mary’s passing. http://www.bibleprobe.com/transitusmariae.htm). Anyway, the Transitus Mariae claims that John was in Ephesus and the Holy Spirit transported him to Mary in Bethlehem (Smith Lewis A. Apocrypha syriaca: the Protevangelium Jacobi and Transitus Mariae, with texts from the Septuagint, the Corân, the Peshiṭta, and from a Syriac hymm in a Syro-Arabic palimpsest of the fifth and other centuries. C.J. Clay and sons, 1902, p. 25) and that Mary was taken into heaven from her house in Bethlehem (p. 33) and that was within the jurisdiction of the governor of Jerusalem (p. 36).

Now, having been to Ephesus a couple of times, I would like to mention the Islamic Turks in that area actually do celebrate the “assumption of Mary” as well. Not because it is mentioned in the Quran (it does not seem to be), but because Mary is mentioned in the Quran more times than Jesus. Certain Muslims venerate Mary to a degree.

Perhaps I should add that August 15th is considered by certain Catholics to be Mary’s “heavenly birthday.” However, perhaps it should be pointed out that early Christians did not observe birthdays (Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays?), hence the “birthday into heaven” position also was not a position of early Christians.

Notice what the Catholic news agency Zenit reported on the dogma:

Why a…dogmatic pronouncement on the Assumption? Because the Vicar of Christ…was inspired to do so to bring forth a new outpouring of grace for the Church through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven — the Mediatrix of all graces who was newly honored by a solemn papal proclamation of her parting earthly prerogative…

One objection voiced during the months preceding the 1950 definition by a group of theologians was that the new Marian definition would wreak havoc to ecumenical efforts newly initiated with other Christians. The late Cardinal Edouard Gagnon who lived through the years preceding and proceeding the Assumption definition, repeatedly testified to the opposite — that immediately following the papal proclamation of Our Lady’s Assumption, the Church experienced its greatest ever advancement in ecumenism in Church history up to its time, which consequently led to its historic flourishing at the Second Vatican Council.

Mothers unite. They do not divide. (Our Lady and Dogmas: Pondering the Assumption. ZE10081612 – 2010-08-16. Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-30069?l=english)

So, the dogma is for the eventual ecumenical plans of the Church of Rome. But it was not an original dogma (it was adopted in 1950), it is in conflict with sacred scripture, and it was not an original apostolic tradition.

For more information, please check out the following:

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?
Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From?
The ‘Lady’ of Guadalupe: Any Future Ramifications? It is claimed that a female apparition appeared near Mexico City on December 12, 1531. How has it affected the world? What might it suggest about the future? A video of related interest is titled: The ‘Lady of Guadalupe’ and Prophecy.
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!
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?
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics The talks for unification involve compromise and the apparent rising up of a changed religion that no one should accept.
Catholic Prophecies: Do They Mirror, Highlight, or Contradict Biblical Prophecies? People of all faiths may be surprised to see what various Roman and Orthodox Catholic prophets have been predicting as many of their predictions will be looked to in the 21st century.
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?]
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?
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 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Differences between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong

Friday, August 14th, 2015


Herbert W. Armstrong and Martin Luther

COGwriter

Most people are familiar with the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther.  And most people who come to this News page regularly are familiar with the late COG leader Herbert W. Armstrong.

While both men had issues in their personal lives, I would like to highlight a couple of their doctrinal similarities and a couple of doctrinal differences.

Ten Commandments

Regarding the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther claimed that:

God threatens to punish all who break these commandments…Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.12).

The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments…we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit (Luther Martin. The Smallclad Papers. 1537. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau Published in: _Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church_. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), pp. 453-529).

…teach them first of all these articles, namely the ten commandments…But as for those that will not learn, let them be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians…(Luther M.  The Short Catechism, 1529.  Cited in  Bettenson H, ed., Documents of the Christian Church. London: Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 225).

Furthermore the Christian Questions and Their Answers section of that book states (it is unclear he Martin Luther actually wrote that section, though it is ascribed to him),

“1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it, I am a sinner. 2. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept…The Ten Commandments are the law of God” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986. pp.39-40,53).

Martin Luther wrote,

…whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God’s commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew xix, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” And when the young man asks Him, Matthew xix, what he shall do that he may inherit eternal life, Christ sets before him naught else but the Ten Commandments (Luther M. Treatise on Good Works, March 29, 1520).

For even if a Moses had never appeared and Abraham had never been born, the Ten Commandments would have had to rule in all men from the very beginning, as they indeed did and still do (Luther, M. Against the Sabbatarians:Letter to a Good Friend, Part II, 1538).

Similarly, Herbert Armstrong taught,

“The ten commandments were first made known to ADAM in the Garden of Eden…We read the answer in Romans 5:12, ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and DEATH BY SIN; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ And in verse fourteen, ‘Death reigned FROM ADAM TO MOSES’. ‘Sin is NOT imputed when there is NO law,’ you read in the 13th verse. Yet sin was imputed because death did reign from Adam to Moses. There must then have been a law from Adam’s time…What is sin? Is there a BIBLE definition? Is there any place in the Bible where it says, “Sin is . . . and then follows the definition? The answer is in 1 John 3:4, ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ ” (Armstrong, H. Were the TEN COMMANDMENTS in force before Moses? Circa 1956).

An article of related interest may be The Ten Commandments and the Early Church.

State of the Dead

They even had similarities on the state of the dead.

The immediate cause of Luther’s stand on the sleep of the soul was the issue of purgatory, with its postulate of the conscious torment of anguished souls. While Luther is not always consistent, the predominant note running all through his writings is that souls sleep in peace, without consciousness or pain. The Christian dead are not aware of anything—see not, feel not, understand not, and are not conscious of passing events. Luther held and periodically stated that in the sleep of death, as in normal physical sleep, there is complete unconsciousness and unawareness of the condition of death or the passage of time.† Death is a deep, sound, sweet sleep.‡ And the dead will remain asleep until the day of resurrection (Martin Luther and William Tyndale on the State of the Dead pp. 571-572).

Martin Luther specifically taught:

It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions indeed, the dead sleep in utter insensibility till the day of judgment… On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep out the interval between earth and heaven… (Luther M. Translated by W. Hazlitt. The life of Luther written by himself. M. Michelet, ed. Bohn’s Standard Library. G. Bell, 1904, p. 133).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

“The Bible teaching contrary to much religious and church teaching – that is the WORD OF GOD teaching – is that the dead ARE DEAD – utterly unconscious. Notice the inspired wisdom of Solomon: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything…” – the RSV translates it “the dead KNOW NOTHING” (Eccl.9:5)… I Corinthians 15:49: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall [future - resurrection] also bear the image of the heavenly” (verse 49). As we are now flesh, we shall be SPIRIT – at the resurrection, that is, when we shall be “BORN AGAIN” – when we shall see, enter into, the Kingdom of God – when we are Spirit – at the resurrection! ‘Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot Inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the then living] shall be changed (verses 50-52)’” (Armstrong HW. Incredible Human Potential. Chapter 12).

While some criticize this teaching and call it “soul sleep”, it was held by the earliest Christians. Please check out the article Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?

Both men had a lot of dissimilarities, personal and professional. But, this article will not focus on personal dissimilarities, but rather on a few of the doctrinal dissimilarities. Because, from the perspective of biblical truth, those are the primary dissimilarities which should count.

Is the Bible Fallible? Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Martin Luther seems to think so as he wrote about the Book of James,

In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works. It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15…But this James does nothing more than drive to the law and to its works. Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the apostles and thus tossed them off on paper. Or it may perhaps have been written by someone on the basis of his preaching. He calls the law a ‘law of liberty’, though Paul calls it a law of slavery, of wrath, of death, and of sin (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

As the following quotes show, Martin Luther did not care for several books in the Old Testament either:

Job spoke not as it stands written in his book, but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book…Ecclesiastes ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it…Solomon did not, therefore, write this book…I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much…The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible. (as quoted in O’Hare, p. 202).

For additional information, please read the article, Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther: What Did Martin Luther Actually Teach about the Bible?

Yet WCG under Herbert Armstrong taught,

The Bible is true not only scientifically, but historically. Again, though the Bible is not a history book, what ever is mentioned as history in the Bible is always true…Is the Word of God infallible? It certainly is (Is the Bible Infallible? Good News Article – Dec. 1980).

Are All the Books of the New Testament Proper?

Martin Luther had a fairly low view of the Books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as he wrote,

Up to this point we have had the true and certain chief books of the New Testament. The four which follow have from ancient times had a different reputation. In the first place, the fact that Hebrews is not an epistle of St. Paul, or of any other apostle, is proved by what it says in chapter 2 (Luther, M. Prefaces to the Epistle of the Hebrews, 1546; originally1522).

Martin Luther wrote,

Concerning the epistle of St. Jude, no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter’s second epistle, so very like it are all the words. He also speaks of the apostles like a disciple who comes long after them and cites sayings and incidents that are found nowhere else in the Scriptures. This moved the ancient fathers to exclude this epistle from the main body of the Scriptures. Moreover the Apostle Jude did not go to Greek-speaking lands, but to Persia, as it is said, so that he did not write Greek. Therefore, although I value this book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of faith (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

Martin Luther taught,

Which are the true and noblest books of the New Testament? From all this you can now judge all the books and decide among them which are the best. John’s Gospel and St. Paul’s epistles, especially that to the Romans, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the true kernel and marrow of all the books…Therefore John’s Gospel is the one, fine, true, and chief gospel, and is far, far to be preferred over the other three and placed high above them. So, too, the epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter far surpass the other three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it (Luther, M. Prefaces to the New Testament. LW 35:357-362, 394-399 Preface to the New Testament, 1546; originally 1522).

Under Herbert Armstrong, WCG taught,

The Bible is true not only scientifically, but historically. Again, though the Bible is not a history book, what ever is mentioned as history in the Bible is always true…Is the Word of God infallible? It certainly is” (Is the Bible Infallible? Good News Article – Dec. 1980).

” ‘To bind up’ comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘to complete.’ The apostles were used ‘to complete’ the testimony of Jesus Christ. The New Testament Church has “the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). It was also through Jesus’ disciples that God’s seal of approval was placed on those laws which are eternally binding on Christians. Yes, we can know! The Bible is COMPLETE! Not one book of the Bible has been lost. Not one is missing. The books of the Bible as you find them in your King James Version constitute the complete Bible! (Do We Have The COMPLETE BIBLE? Copyright 1959, 1974 Ambassador College).

Two articles of possibly related interest may be The Old Testament Canon and The New Testament Canon – From the Bible Itself.

It may be of interest to also realize that while Martin Luther wrote, “John’s Gospel is the one, fine, true, and chief gospel, and is far, far to be preferred over the other three and placed high above them”, he (unlike HWA) ignored much of what it taught. The plain truth is that much of the Gospel According to John had to do with two holy day seasons: the final Passover season (Chapters 13-21) and one particular Feast of Tabernacles‘ season (Chapters 7-9)–times that Martin Luther did not observe like the original Christians did, but that Herbert Armstrong did.

Baptism of Infants/Children

“Why are babies to be baptized? A. Babies are to baptized because they are included in the words ‘all nations’ (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.202).

Furthermore, Martin Luther got these statements confirmed,

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children…Article XII:…They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

Thus Martin Luther not only encouraged infant baptism, he condemned those who opposed infant baptism.

The Apostle Peter taught, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) “Then those that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:42).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

Should Children Be Baptized? One cannot be baptized until after he has fully REPENTED. Only those who BELIEVE, both the true GOSPEL (the Message Jesus preached, which is the Kingdom, or Government of God) and on JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour, can be baptized (see Acts 2:38; 8:37; 16:31). Children have not reached that maturity where they have the self-discipline to truly repent, and believe (Armstrong H. All About Water Baptism. 1948, 1954, 1972 edition).

There is no recorded instance of any babies being baptized in the Old or New Testaments. An article of related interest may be Baptism and the Early Church.

Herbert W. Armstrong had many doctrines closer with the teachings of the Bible and early Christianity than Martin Luther did.  See also Continuing History of the Church of God.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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.
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
COGwriter Position on Other Churches and Religions What is the fate of those who do not know Christ? What about those who profess Christ outside the Church of God?
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! 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.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
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?

Christianity, Heaven, and the State of the Dead

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

Certain scholars who have looked into the Bible and early church history have properly questioned the idea of Christians going to heaven:

(RNS) The oft-cliched Christian notion of heaven — a blissful realm of harp-strumming angels — has remained a fixture of the faith for centuries…But scholars on the right and left increasingly say that comforting belief in an afterlife has no basis in the Bible and would have sounded bizarre to Jesus and his early followers…

Wright and Morse work independently of each other and in very different ideological settings, but their work shows a remarkable convergence on key points. In classic Judaism and first-century Christianity, believers expected this world would be transformed into God’s Kingdom — a restored Eden where redeemed human beings would be liberated from death, illness, sin and other corruptions.

“This represents an instance of two top scholars who have apparently grown tired of talk of heaven on the part of Christians that is neither consistent with the New Testament nor theologically coherent,” said Trevor Eppehimer of Hood Theological Seminary in North Carolina. “The majority of Christian theologians today would recognize that Wright and Morse’s views on heaven represent, for the most part, the basic New Testament perspective on heaven.”

First-century Jews who believed Jesus was Messiah also believed he inaugurated the Kingdom of God and were convinced the world would be transformed in their own lifetimes, Wright said. This inauguration, however, was far from complete and required the active participation of God’s people practicing social justice, nonviolence and forgiveness to become fulfilled…“And so it’s not a Platonic, timeless eternity, which is what we were all taught,” Wright said. “It is very definitely that there will come a time when God will utterly transform this world — that will be the age to come.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/nt-wright-christian-heaven-is-wrong_n_1524117.html

N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Rob Bell’s bestseller Love Wins follows Wright in putting the post-mortem emphasis on resurrected bodies in the context of a new heaven and a new earth. More recently Howard Snyder and Joel Scandrett, in Salvation Means Creation Healed, make an extended argument that salvation focuses not just on souls and not just on people, but presents the hope of a transformed and new earth…

The eschatological hope of reembodiment and a renewed earth doesn’t belong to Paul alone. Second Peter 3:13 reads that “in accordance with his [God’s] promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.” And of course there are chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, in which the seer beholds “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (21:1) and focuses on a resplendent New Jerusalem, into which the nations will proceed by the light of the Lamb and offer up all their glories (22:23–24).

Such texts suggest that the new view is not so new but is indeed a recovery of an old and more decidedly biblical view of death and the afterlife. http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-05/life-after-life-after-death

There is no question that early Christians did not teach that believers go to heaven upon death, but instead taught that they would be part of the kingdom of God. See also Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?

An anonymous, likely first century, document sometimes called I Clement states:

The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. (42:1-3).

Although he had a lot of heretical views, Justin Martyr (considered to be a saint by both Catholics and Protestants, but not by those of us in the Church of God) in the second century wrote:

“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” (Justin. Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 80).

Polycarp of Smyrna was an early Christian leader, who was a disciple of John, the last of the original apostles to die. Polycarp, around 110-135 A.D. taught:

Knowing, then, that “God is not mocked,” we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory …For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since “every lust warreth against the spirit; ” and “neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God,” nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

While Greek philosophers and Mithraism taught going to heaven (see Do You Practice Mithraism?), the reality is that this was not a teaching of the New Testament nor early professors of Christ. It should also be noted that Dr. Wright was correct that Christians practiced nonviolence (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?).

However, since Mithraism was a military cult, when a follower of Mithras in the fourth century (the Roman Emperor Constantine, who opposed matters he considered to be Jewish, see Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? ) decided to attempt to blend the religion of Mithras with Catholicism, most who professed Christ then not only adopted the view of heaven, but also the view that military service in this age was acceptable (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? and Do You Practice Mithraism?).

What is the State of the Dead?

The dead are currently in their graves awaiting one of three resurrections (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?).

But some still have questions.

The Apostle Peter taught something related in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.… For David did not ascend into the heavens…” (Acts 2:29, 34).

Notice that David did not go to heaven. Peter, speaking many centuries after David’s death, taught that David was still in his grave where he had been placed at death, and was still awaiting the resurrection.

This differs from the common and mistaken belief that people like David went to heaven upon death or upon Jesus’ death and/or resurrection.

Jesus Himself explained, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).

So, only Jesus has been to heaven.

Some may wonder what the dead are now doing? The dead are dead. They are simply “sleeping” in their graves, unconscious, waiting to be called to resurrection.

What will happen when Christians are resurrected? The Apostle Paul explains:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).

The modern doctrine of going to heaven upon death simply was not part of early Christianity or taught in the New Testament.

Most know very little about early church history or where their doctrines came from–and what many think they know is clouded by misinformation and misconceptions.

But those willing to be called and led by God can find the truth in the Bible and the scattered records of early church history

Those interested in early Christianity may wish to check out the following to learn more:

Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven? What do the Bible and scholars teach? What about ‘near-death experiences’? Here is a link to a related sermon: Heaven and Christianity. A shorter video is Dante Aligheri’s Inferno, Heaven, and The Real Hope.
What Is the Place that Jesus Is Preparing? Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote this and answered whether the saints go to heaven upon death.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
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 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?
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?
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? 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?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Just What Do You Mean the Kingdom of God? A booklet that was written by Herbert Armstrong answers questions about the Kingdom.
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?
Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate? Justin is considered one of the first Christian theologians and scholars. But did he support a Gnostic version of Christianity? Do you know what he taught about souls going to heaven upon death? This article shows from his own writings, what Justin really taught.
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?