Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

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

Sunday, November 5th, 2017


Artist’s portrayal of Purgatory

COGwriter

A Catholic source posted the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Catholic Encyclopedia correctly states:

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

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

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

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

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

So what was taught in the second century?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…where are the records of protests?

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

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

History indicates that the above assertions are not quite accurate.

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

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

Notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some articles for further inquiry may include:

Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? Here are some historical and biblical insight on this question. There are many cultures that have celebrations and observances that are similar to some associated with Halloween. What did the Druids do? Is Halloween one of the most important holidays for Satanists? Do the Japanese, Indians, and Chinese have any practices that are similar to some associated with Halloween? Does the Bible endorse or condemn practices that are associated with Halloween? Here are links to two related sermonette length videos: Halloween: Are there 7 reasons for Christians to celebrate it? and International ‘Halloween’ Should Christians observe Halloween?
All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day When did “All Saints Day” and the “Day of the Dead” begin? “What about All Soul’s Day”?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy. Here is a link to a sermon video: Why Learn About Fatima?
Fatima and the ‘Miracle’ of the Sun On October 13, 1917, tens of thousands of people witnessed what they considered to be a miracle in the sky in Fatima, Portugal. Was this a miracle from God? Can you be certain? A video of some related interest is Fatima and Pope Francis. Here is a link to the sermon: Fatima and the ‘Miracle of the Sun’.
What is the Gospel? True religion should be based upon the true gospel. What are some of the different gospels and where did they come from? Do you believe the true or a false gospel? Who is preaching the gospel? Here is a version in Korean ¼õÇLÇt·€ »4ÅÇÇx¬?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermons Why Teach the Kingdom of God, The Gospel of the Kingdom, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Mystery of Iniquity What is the mystery of iniquity? How did it start? How will it end? Two related sermons are also available: The Mystery of Iniquity and The Mystery of Lawlessness.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]. A sermon is also available: How Does the Church of God Differ from Protestantism?
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! provides concerned Christians with enough Catholic-documented facts to effectively counter every false Marian argument. In addition to the print version, there is a Kindle version of Fatima Shock! which you can acquire in seconds.
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it? Here is a link to a related sermon video The Unpardonable Sin and the Prodigal Son. Here is a link to a shorter video The ‘Unpardonable Sin’ and ‘Climate Change’?

Reflecting on Martin Luther

Sunday, October 29th, 2017


Martin Luther

COGwriter

October 31st marks the day that Martin Luther hammered his now famous 95 theses on the Wittenberg (Germany) church back in 1517. BBC reported the following related to him today:

31 October 2017

Five hundred years ago, a young German monk began the Protestant Reformation, shattering the authority of the Catholic Church.

Centuries later, there are signs that the churches have put aside their differences. …

Luther’s understanding of church, God and eternal life. … would also result in him hammering 95 theses – arguments and objections – to the doors of the Schlosskirche, or University church.

With each blow, the authority and stability of the Catholic Church was challenged as never before. …

Luther’s theological crisis was accelerated by a Dominican monk called Johann Tetzel, who was charged with collecting so-called indulgences on behalf of the Catholic Church.

These were payments which were made in the hope that individuals, and their deceased relatives, would be fast-tracked through purgatory into heaven.

Tetzel was an effective travelling salesman.

He would ask his audience: “Don’t you hear the voices of your wailing dead parents and others? From this you could redeem us with small alms.”

He would even offer a jingle that would not be out of place in a modern advertising campaign: “When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” …

Luther came to believe that one’s acceptance before God could not be purchased by indulgences, nor achieved by good works, but only received through faith.

He also came to the conclusion that only scripture could determine the governance of the Church and the practice of Christians.

‘Son of iniquity’

Luther’s observations were not well received.

Within a year, Pope Leo X dismissed Luther as an outspoken drunk who would repent when sober, describing him as “a son of iniquity”.

Excommunicated in 1521, Luther was dragged before the Diet of Worms, an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire, but refused to recant … http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41742857

While the Church of Rome now agrees with many of the items on his list, back in 1517 this caused tremendous dissension and was a key factor in the so-called Protestant Reformation.

Many consider that Martin Luther was a great saint.

I do not.

People actually believe the Bible would not as well.

His actions and writings prove he was not a Christian.

For proof, let’s start with this quote from Martin Luther:

My word is the word of Christ; my mouth is the mouth of Christ” (O’Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, 1916–1987 reprint ed., pp. 203-204).

Martin Luther was also a type of preterist, which meant he did not believe in various biblical prophecies (see also The Dangerous Rise of Preterists). He also somewhat denounced the Book of Revelation as well as several other books of the Bible (see Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).

Consider also that although Jesus endorsed fasting and told His followers to do so (Matthew 6:16-17; 9:15), Martin Luther condemned it:

This doctrine is so wicked and shameful before God, that no carousing or gluttony, no intemperance or drunkedness could be so bad, that it would be better to be completely fuddled all day than thus to fast (Luther’s Works, vol ii., p.730 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p. 91).

Notice the following report that came out after a series of archeological digs in three of Martin Luther’s former residences:

Archaeologists Unveil Secrets of Luther’s Life

Spiegel – Oct 28, 2008

Archeologists have uncovered Martin Luther’s household waste, including beer mugs, toy marbles and a child’s crossbow. The find is being shown in a new exhibition that casts the religious reformer’s private life in a new light…

Brother Martin, a stout man, was sitting on the toilet in the Wittenberg Monastery, wearing the black robe of the Augustinian Order, when he was suddenly struck with the fundamental concept of his reformist body of thought.

Martin Luther himself noted, in two after-dinner speeches (Nos. 1681 and 3232b), that Protestantism was born in the sewer: “The spiritus sanctus imparted this creation to me on dis cloaca.”…

Luther, a German national hero, has been the subject of dozens of biographies. His translation of the Bible into German was as influential as his curses were memorable. Now archeologists have uncovered surprising new information about the religious reformer at three different excavation sites:

    • The floor of the building where Luther was born, in the town of Eisleben
    • His parents’ house in the town of Mansfeld
    • The estate in Wittenberg where the former monk lived with his wife and their six children

The digs exposed toys and food remains, broken dishes and grain (dated to the year 1500, using the C-14 method). The archeologists also found his wife’s wedding ring and a hoard of 250 silver coins…

All of this snooping around in the refuse of the founder of their church has not exactly been met with enthusiasm within Germany’s protestant congregations. In their view, the notion that the Luther family tossed dead cats into the household garbage is just as irrelevant, from a religious standpoint, as the suspicion that Luther, as a monk, attached his theses to the castle church with tacks instead of nails.

But the debris from Luther’s household should not be downplayed. Some of it, analyzed using the methods of criminology, relates to the reformer’s intellectual works, and it even reveals that he was not always entirely truthful.

For instance, the scholar fudged his parents’ social circumstances. He claimed that he was the son of a “poor miner” who toiled away in the mines with his hatchet, and that “my mother carried all her wood home on her back.”

But this is far from the truth. Luther’s father already owned a copper mill as a young man, while his mother came from a bourgeois family in Eisenach and had good connections to the royal mine administration.

In 1484, when Martin Luther was still an infant, the family moved to Mansfeld, where the father quickly became a successful foreman. He operated three copper smelters, owned 80 hectares (198 acres) of land and lent his money for interest.

The size and grandeur of his house, as the excavation revealed, were in keeping with his economic standing. “The front of the house on the street side was 25 meters (82 feet) wide,” says archeologist Björn Schlenker. The excavation exposed massive basement vaults and a rear courtyard surrounded by large outbuildings.

It was on this farm that young Martin and his siblings played, surrounded by flocks of geese and chickens. The fragments at the site reveal that they played with crossbows, clay marbles and bowling pins made of beef bones — toys not every family could afford at the time.

The remains of kitchen scraps discovered on the property reveal that the family frequently ate roast goose and the tender meat of young pigs. During Lent, the Luther family ate expensive ocean fish, like herring, codfish and plaice…

It is well known that Luther’s parents firmly believed in witches and the devil, but now further details have emerged. The remains of a pilgrim’s horn, a noisemaker pilgrims could buy in the western city of Aachen, were found in the rubble. The father had apparently traveled to Aachen, the German version of Lourdes, to marvel at the swaddling clothes and loincloth of Jesus.

The young Luther did not yet find such relics repulsive when he studied law in Erfurt, a city in eastern Germany. But then suddenly he discontinued his university studies and fled into a monastery. Why?

The reformer later explained that his decision was prompted by a severe storm he had been caught in on July 2, 1505. After a lightning strike, he spontaneously vowed to become a monk…

But the tale of a sign from above coming to Luther in the form of a lightning strike is greatly exaggerated. In truth Luther, who was 21 at the time, was fleeing from an impending forced marriage.

“Newly discovered archive records show that the father had already married off three of his daughters and one son to the children of wealthy foremen,” explains expert Schlenker. Apparently it was now Martin’s turn.

Instead of submitting to his father’s will, the young man went to the monastery of the Augustinian hermits near Erfurt…

He denounced Turks as “devils,” Jews as “liars” and gay priests as “garden brothers who do it with each other.” Rome, he wrote, was surrounded by “pig-theologians.”

After penning such sharp words, the powerfully eloquent reformer ate from faience bowls and drank from magnificent Turkish pitchers. The archeologists found intricate oven tiles decorated with motifs from the Old Testament, as well as more than 1,600 shards from glasses Luther, an avid eater, used to quench his considerable thirst for beer. Luther needed it to numb his emotions…

He also suffered from angina pectoris, which made him anxious. As gout set in, writing became increasingly difficult.

And then there was his obesity. At first, the doctor weighed 100, then 120 and, finally, an estimated 150 kilograms (the estimate is based on an ink drawing made of Luther shortly after his death).

The archeologists also found dozens of small containers, which Luther used to hold the many ointments and medications he bought for himself.

Gradually he wasted away…

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,586847,00.html

Martin Luther and his false non-biblical teachings simply cannot and should not be trusted nor relied upon by those who profess Christ.

Martin Luther hated Jews and encouraged violence against them:

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

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

Followers of Adolf Hitler sometimes pointed to Martin Luther’s writings to ‘justify’ the Holocaust.

It was not just Jews that Martin Luther hated. He violently hated those that would not support him:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reality is the fact that Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics accept tradition, they call many biblical practices that were enjoined upon and practiced by the early New Testament church, heresies. But if practices were original and based upon the Bible, can they logically be called heresies? Are not the heretics, those that changed the teachings of the Bible in favor of traditions of men?

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

Martin Luther was not a real Christian saint.

Those interested in learning more should consider studying the following:

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 Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
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?
Protestant and Church of God views of the United States in Bible Prophecy Is the USA mentioned in Bible prophecy? Some Protestants say yes, while others say no. What does the Bible really teach? Learn the truth about this. There is also a video available: Is The United States Mentioned In Bible Prophecy?
The Dangerous Rise of Preterists Has the Great Tribulation finished? What was the view of early Christians? Why is the preterist view dangerous? A related sermon video is titled Preterism: You’ve Gotta Be Kidding…Right?
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!
Pope Francis’ Celebration of Reformation’s 500th Anniversary The Vatican announced that Pope Francis plans to attend a celebration commemorating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Is this part of the ecumenical movement? Is this a good thing? Does the Bible warn against this? Do Protestant leaders favor ecumenical unity? What did early Protestants teach about the papacy? Should the Bible or human committees be listened to?
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.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

This is when many compromised professors of Christ became militaristic

Friday, October 27th, 2017


Labarum Cross

COGwriter

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

Despite that fact, that day is observed by some Catholics as Milvian Bridge Day, as well as St. Jude’s Day. Having both of them observed the same day is somewhat an odd occurrence as there is a major contradiction between the two.

What is the contradiction?

The one known as Saint Jude wrote the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This type of cross is known as a labarum:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constantine was NOT a true Christian.

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

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Did early claimed Christians believe in the immortality of the soul?

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

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

Did early Christians?

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

This was addressed in a sermon titled Are humans immortal?

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

Interestingly, Ezekiel recorded:

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

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

Well, notice the next several verses from Ezekiel:

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

Ezekiel is obviously talking about the first death.

Why?

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

Ezekiel basically continues and again warns:

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

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

The New Testament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 Therefore He says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nor did Paul as he taught:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently, look at who only has immortality:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second Century Church Writings

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

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

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

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

Souls that can perish cannot be immortal.

Notice this from Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also understood that the resurrection was physical:

We therefore have formed the belief that [our] bodies also do rise again. For although they go to corruption, yet they do not perish; for the earth, receiving the remains, preserves them, even like fertile seed mixed with more fertile ground. Again, as a bare grain is sown, and, germinating by the command of God its Creator, rises again, clothed upon and glorious, but not before it has died and suffered decomposition, and become mingled with the earth (Irenaeus. Fragments of Irenaeus, Fragment VII. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).

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

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

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

The second century apologist Tatian and associate of Justin wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Century

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

Hippolytus wrote:

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

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

Hippolytus also wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth Century

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

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

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

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

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

The fourth century Catholic apologist and teacher Lactantius wrote:

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

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

The fourth century, Bishop Ambrose of Milan wrote:

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

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

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

Mithraism Taught the Immortality of the Soul

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

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

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some articles to assist in your studies may include:

Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Mark, Venice, and Apostolic Succession

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

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 repeatedly 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. This was the body 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

San Marco means “Saint Mark.”

As it turns out, 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 also believe the idea that Mark indirectly founded Venice by founding a bishopric in Aquileia (which is about 125 km away). 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 in order to claim an apostolic tie that was not directly part of Rome. 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 ‘apostolic 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 the biblical Mark was not part of a faith that would have encouraged 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 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)

Yet 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 above 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)

For those who want to learn more about what God inspired Mark to write, we have a series of sermons that cover every verse of Mark’s Gospel:

MARK Here is a link to a sermon covering all of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark: What did Jesus teach in the Book of Mark? Here is a link to six sermons covering all the verses in the Gospel of Mark: Mark 1-2: Author, Prophecy, & Miracles, Mark 3-5: Healing, Demons, and Parables, Mark 6-9: Tradition, John’s beheading, Elijah, and Restoration, Mark 10-12: Marriage, Divorce, Needle Eye, Greatest Command, & Taxes, Mark 13: Temple, Four Horsemen, Troubles, Great Tribulation, and Gospel Proclamation, and .

Mark, like the other Gospel writers, reported about Passover:

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, but Mark would have kept it then. 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 those practices 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 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 their 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 accept 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 flock 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:

MARK Here is a link to a sermon covering all of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark: What did Jesus teach in the Book of Mark? Here is a link to six sermons covering all the verses in the Gospel of Mark: Mark 1-2: Author, Prophecy, & Miracles, Mark 3-5: Healing, Demons, and Parables, Mark 6-9: Tradition, John’s beheading, Elijah, and Restoration, Mark 10-12: Marriage, Divorce, Needle Eye, Greatest Command, & Taxes, Mark 13: Temple, Four Horsemen, Troubles, Great Tribulation, and Gospel Proclamation, and .
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?
Laying on of Hands This is an elementary principle of Hebrews 6. Have you properly had hands laid upon you? Here is a link to a related sermon: Laying on of Hands and Succession.
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 link to a sermon: Claims of Apostolic Succession. Here is a related articlein 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? A related sermon is also available Christianity: 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 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Did Ignatius endorse Sunday and do away with the Sabbath?

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

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

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

Yet, that is not true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?
Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity
Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath
Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal? Are mistranslations of these early writings relied on for false doctrinal positions?

CG7 confused over some of John Calvin’s teachings

Thursday, October 12th, 2017


John Calvin, 16th Century Portrait

COGwriter

John Calvin died on May 27, 1564. He was an influential French pastor during the Reformation and his views still affect Protestants until this day. His followers are known for something called the TULIP theory of salvation. It is a theory with many flaws.

In an edition of its Bible Advocate magazine, CG7-Denver’s former president, Calvin Burrell had the following about it:

Q What does the Bible teach about God’s sovereignty (predestination) and human freewill? Can you shed any light on the TULIP theory?

A The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the freewill of persons, even if harmonizing the two is beyond our grasp. (Burrell C. Questions and Answers. Bible Advocate. May-June 2010, p. 7)

Calvin Burrell includes the following in his answer:

The fifteenth century Protestant theologian John Calvin stressed the divine side of this mysterious equation. The acrostic TULIP was later applied to his teachings:

T – Total depravity: All men fell in Adam, leaving them dead in sins and incapable of responding positively to God.

U – Unconditional election: From eternity past, God chose certain men to be saved by His grace, without regard to any merit foreseen in them.

L – Limited atonement: God sent His Son to make full and effective payment only for the sins of the elect, those He had predestined for salvation.

I – Irresistible grace: Those God elected to salvation and for whom Christ died He effectively calls by regeneration from spiritual death, thus rendering them capable of expressing saving faith.

P – Perseverance of saints: Those God elected in Christ, called in regeneration, and justified by faith He continually quickens so they will never fall from His grace but only enter eternal glory.

This emphasis on God’s sovereignty, predestination, and election of some to salvation (thus, others are predestined to damnation) is commonly called Calvinism. It is heard most often in churches of the Reformed persuasion, along with some Presbyterian and Baptist groups. Calvinists do not deny that man has a modicum of free will; they see it as some of the means by which God carries out His eternal decrees.

Those of us who resist one or more of the TULIP points above do not deny the control of God over human history. But we believe that, in matters of trusting Jesus and persevering in faith, God enables the free will of man and yields to it.

Like other disputes, several Bible texts may be listed in support of either side of this classic discussion. Each position champions truths that should help to shape and inform the other. As one wise man remarked when asked how he would resolve the debate between God’s sovereignty and human freedom, “I never try to reconcile friends.” Elder Calvin Burrell

The reality is that although CG7 once taught what has been called “the age to come” doctrine (and we in the Continuing Church of God still do), it no longer does. Because it no longer does, CG7 is confused about Calvinism, predestination, and many aspects of God’s plan of salvation. (Calvin Burrell also confused centuries as John Calvin is from the 16th, not 15th, century–but minor typos happen.) Humans certainly can resist the will of God regarding their own salvation (see also John Calvin, Calvinism, TULIP, and What is Predestination?), and all need to realize this.

The day of Pentecost, for one example, does not only picture the granting of the Holy Spirit and the start of the New Testament church, it also shows that there are some predestined in this age to be firstfruits (cf. Romans 8:23). And the idea of firstfruits, includes the idea of a later, and larger harvest. A time when salvation will be offered to all who never really had that opportunity in the “age to come” (Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 10:11-12).

Jesus warned the Sardis Church to be careful not to lose doctrine (Revelation 3:1-2), but sadly this is another one that seems to have been lost by most among them. And the idea of firstfruits in this age with others being called in “the age to come” is part of the message of Pentecost, that groups like the Continuing Church of God still understand to this day.

Today, actually is a Holy Day that better explains God’s plan of salvation. But since CG7 does not keep it, they do not understand the plan as they should.

For more information about CG7 and other subjects in this post, please prayerfully study the following:

John Calvin, Calvinism, TULIP, and What is Predestination? Who was John Calvin? Did he believe in sola Scriptura or did he hold to unbiblical doctines? TULIP analyzed.
The Last Great Day: Shemini ‘Azeret What is the ‘eighth day’ of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed?
God’s Grace is For All Is being Jewish a hindrance to salvation? What about not being a descendant of Israel? What does the Bible really teach? Here is a link to a related sermon titled Race and Grace; Do you view race as God does?
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues”?
Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace their history through this group. Whaid Rose is the president of the largest CG7 group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
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.
The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.

Thyatira Church of God

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017


COGwriter Peering into Ancient Thyatira (2008)

COGwriter

In Revelation 2, Jesus said:

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations —

27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ —

as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.

29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘ (Revelation 2:18-29).

Do you know much about this church? This era of the Church of God was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. Some of the Catholic Inquisitors reported about some of their doctrines.

Because of the portion bolded above, some have felt that some of the Thyatira remnant would be around until Jesus Christ returns. And I share that view. It is also of note that it was only to Thyatira (Revelation 2:25) and to Philadelphia (3:11) that Jesus said to “hold fast what you have.” So this got me to consider that perhaps both groups were possibly being told to “hold fast” to many of the same things–but it is also interesting to see that Thyatirans are threatened with the Great Tribulation (2:22).

But in this post, I would like to focus on some doctrines and the Inquisition.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about one of its inquisitors:

Bernard Guidonis
Inquisitor of Toulouse against the Albigenses and Bishop of Lodève, b. at Royères (Limousin) in 1261, d. at Lauroux (Hérault), 30 December, 1331. He was one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages (De Moreira M. Transcribed by Albert Judy, O.P. Bernard Guidonis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Here are some of the beliefs he found that those he persecuted held:

Nevertheless, attention should be called to the fact that among the Beguins are found some who know, accept and believe many or all of the errors listed below. These are more steeped and hardened in them. Others can say less about these errors yet are sometimes found to be worse in holding and believing them than are others. Still others have heard or remember less and yield to valid reason and saner counsel. Others obstinately persist and refuse to recant, choosing to die rather than abjure their errors, saying that in this matter they defend the gospel truth, the life of Christ, and evangelical and apostolic poverty…

Again, they say that the prelates and inquisitors who judged and condemned them as heretics – and indeed all those who consented or now consent knowingly to their condemnations – have by this action become heretics (if they persevere in it), and by this action have lost the ecclesiastical power to bind, loose and administer the ecclesiastical sacraments…

Again, they say that prelates and members of religious orders whose clothing is too abundant or too costly violate gospel perfection and Christ’s precept, according instead with the precept of Antichrist. Such clerics who go around in pompous fashion are of the family of Antichrist…

Again, they say they are not required to take oaths, nor should they be made to reveal under oath the names of their fellow believers, accomplices and associates, because, as they say, this would violate the command to love one’s neighbor and would on the contrary injure one’s neighbor…

they say the carnal church (by which they mean the Roman church as it exists, not only in the city of Rome, but throughout the whole area under Roman jurisdiction) is Babylon, the great whore of whom John spoke in the Apocalypse. Thus they apply these passages to the Roman Church and attribute to the church all the evil things written there, such as that it is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus Christ…

Again, they distinguish between two churches, the carnal church which they say is the Roman church which contains the multitude of rebrobate, and the spiritual church which contains those people they describe as spiritual and evangelical, who emulate the life of Christ and the apostles. They say the latter is their church…

Again, some of them claim that on those elect spiritual and evangelical individuals through whom a spiritual and benign church will be founded in the seventh and last period, the Holy Spirit will be poured out in greater or at least in equal abundance as on the apostles, the disciples of Jesus Christ, on the day of Pentecost during the time of the primitive church. And they say the Holy Spirit will descend on them like a fiery flame in a furnace, and they take this to mean that, not only will their souls be filled with the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit will live in their bodies as well.

Again, they claim that there is a double Antichrist, one spiritual or mystical and the other the real, greater Antichrist…

Again, they say that both in the time of persecution by Antichrist and in that of the aforesaid war carnal Christians will be so afflicted that, despairing, they will say, “If Christ were God, he would not permit Christians to suffer so much and such intense evil.” Thus despairing, they will apostacize from the faith and die. But God will hide the elect spiritual individuals so that they cannot be found by Antichrist and his ministers. Then the church will be reduced to the same size as the primitive church when it was first founded…

Again, they say that after Antichrist’s death these spiritual individuals will convert the entire world to the faith of Christ; and the whole world will be so good and benign that there will be no malice or sin in people of that period, except perhaps for venial sins in a few of them; and all things will be common as far as use is concerned; and there will be no one who offends anyone else or encourages another to sin. For there will be the greatest love among them, and there will be one flock and one pastor. According to some of them this period and condition will last for one hundred years. Then, as love fails, malice will creep back in and slowly increase until Christ is, as it were, compelled to come in universal judgment because of it.

Again, these insane heretics seriously and ignominiously rail against the Lord Pope, the vicar of Jesus Christ, calling him the mystical Antichrist, precursor of the greater Antichrist, preparing the way for his life (Bernard Gui: Inquisitor’s Manual, Chapter 5. Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. http://phi.kenyon.edu/Projects/Margin/inquisit.htm 04/09/07).

It should be pointed out that perhaps the Inquisitor slightly confused the millennium, the first part of it (happening after the death of Antichrist), with the 100 years which happens afterwards.

It should also be pointed out that Albigneses and Waldenses were sometimes arrested with the Beguins. Now while most that were killed in the Inquisition were not in the Church of God, nor were the Franciscan Beguins, it is obvious that Church of God doctrines such as that ministers should not dress like the Roman clerics, Christians are not to swear oaths, and that God will offer salvation to all, were clearly condemned by the Roman Catholics during the time of Thyatira.

As far as a spiritual or mystic antichrist and a later one, that is consistent with what the Apostle John taught in 1 John 2:18 (more on this can be found in the article Some Doctrines of Antichrist).

Furthermore, the same inquisitor claimed the following about the Albigenses:

In the first place, they usually say of themselves that they are good Christians, who do not swear, or lie, or speak evil of others; that they do not kill any man or animal, nor anything having the breath of life, and that they hold the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel as the apostles taught. They assert that they occupy the place of the apostles, and that, on account of the above-mentioned things, they of the Roman Church, namely the prelates, clerks, and monks, and especially the inquisitors of heresy persecute them and call them heretics, although they are good men and good Christians, and that they are persecuted just as Christ and his apostles were by the Pharisees.

Moreover they talk to the laity of the evil lives of the clerks and prelates of the Roman Church, pointing out and setting forth their pride, cupidity, avarice, and uncleanness of life, and such other evils as they know. They invoke with their own interpretation and according to their abilities the authority of the Gospels and the Epistles against the condition of the prelates, churchmen, and monks, whom they call Pharisees and false prophets, who say, but do no.

Then they attack and vituperate, in turn, all the sacraments of the Church, especially the sacrament of the eucharist, saying that it cannot contain the body of Christ, for had this been as great as the largest mountain Christians would have entirely consumed it before this. They assert that the host comes from straw, that it passes through the tails of horses, to wit, when the flour is cleaned by a sieve (of horse hair); that, moreover, it passes through the body and comes to a vile end, which, they say, could not happen if God were in it.

Of baptism, they assert that the water is material and corruptible and is therefore the creation of the evil power, and cannot sanctify the soul, but that the churchmen sell this water out of avarice, just as they sell earth for the burial of the dead, and oil to the sick when they anoint them, and as: they sell the confession of sins as made to the priests.

Hence they claim that confession made to the priests of, the Roman Church is useless, and that, since the priests may be sinners, they cannot loose nor bind, and, being unclean in themselves, cannot make others clean. They assert, moreover, that the cross of Christ should not be adored or venerated, because, as they urge, no one would venerate or adore the gallows upon which a father, relative, or friend had been hung. They urge, further, that they who adore the cross ought, for similar reasons, to worship all thorns and lances, because as Christ’s body was on the cross during the passion, so was the crown of thorns on his head and the soldier’s lance in his side, They proclaim many other scandalous things in regard to the sacraments.

Moreover they read from the Gospels and the Epistles in the vulgar tongue, applying and expounding them in their favor and against the condition of the Roman Church in a manner which it would take too long to describe in detail; but all that relates to this subject may be read more fully in the books they have written and infected, and may be learned from the confessions of such of their followers as have been converted. (From the Inquisitor’s Manual of Bernard Gui [d.1331], early 14th century, translated in J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905), pp. 381-383, http://essenes.crosswinds.net/albe.html 05/27/07).

I will simply state that we in the Continuing Church of God consider ourselves to be true Christians, do not swear, do not kill any man, do consider inquisitors as non-Christians, do not consider that the “Eucharist” is the actual flesh of Christ, oppose the selling of sacraments, do not believe priests can forgive sin, do not revere instruments of death like the cross, do normally read the Bible in the Vulgar tongue (which is English in my case), and that we hold the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel as the apostles taught (this latter point is shown fairly clearly in the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?).

And as the inquisitor’s accounts show, our positions were also held in the Middle Ages (for documentation that our views have been held since the beginning of the Church age, please go to the History of Early Christianity page).

Since this post is during the Feast of Tabernacles, the following might be of interest to some:

Thyatira Era Begins The pope in 1096 described the Valley Louise in Dauphiny, France, as infested with “heresy.” It was a result of Paulician and Bogomil evangelization of the Alpine regions. About 1104, a man from this valley, called Peter of Bruys, began at Embrun to preach REPENTANCE throughout Languedoc and Provence…One of the definitions of the Greek word Thyatira is “sweet savor of contrition,” in other words, “real repentance.” Peter of Bruys taught that infant baptism was useless. He only baptized persons old enough to know and mean what they were doing — that is, only AFTER REAL REPENTANCE. He further rejected the Catholic MYSTERY teaching that the priest in the Mass produced the literal flesh of Christ. He opposed reverence for crosses, emphasis on huge church edifices, the fable of purgatory, prayers for the dead with their inevitable heavy bribes paid to the greedy religious leaders who falsely claimed to represent God. Converted followers gathered around Peter of Bruys. God’s Church was beginning again to do a Work. Freed from the errors of Cathars and Catholics, a spiritual gospel was once again being widely preached. The numbers of truly converted — those led by the Holy Spirit — multiplied. They kept God’s Sabbath. For “nearly twenty years” Peter preached. Then the false church would no longer stand for this open rejection of its authority. He was taken and burned alive at the stake…

The Waldenses recognized that they were the true successors of the apostolic church. They kept the SABBATH, also the yearly PASSOVER. And each September or October (in God’s seventh month — see Lev. 23), they held at the headquarters church a great “conference.” As many as 700 persons attended from afar. New students were chosen, ministerial assignments were made, AND CROWDS GATHERED DAILY TO LISTEN TO SERMONS. What could this gathering have been but the Feast of Tabernacles! 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).

Because those of Thyatira would have not kept the Greco-Roman holidays and would have tended towards the biblical holy days, this would be another reason that they would have been subject to persecutions (see also Persecutions by Church and State).

Some items of related interest may include:

In Search of Thyatira This era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
The Spanish Inquisition and Early Protestant Persecutions Was the Church of Rome really responsible for this? What happened? A video of related interest is titled: The Past and Future Inquisition.
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
Joyce’s Photos of Thyatira Thyatira is the fourth of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. Here some photos of our visit there.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
News Articles Related to Church History This link is to articles on Church history that were once published on the COG News Page.
ChurchHistoryBook.com This is a URL with some information on Church History.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! 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?
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 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc. Here is a link to a related video sermon: Ephesus Church Era.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like the beliefs held by the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2016, 2017, or 2018? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation Start in 2016?
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.

Infant baptism or the blessing of little children?

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Child being blessed

COGwriter

Traditionally, the Church of God has a ceremony, most often in the Fall in modern times, called the “blessing of little children” for infants and young children. At the Feast of Tabernacles this has occurred in the Continuing Church of God (watch The Blessing of Little Children Ceremony).

Greco-Roman faiths do not do that. Instead, groups such as Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutherans practice infant baptism. (Here is a link to this information in the Spanish language Bautismo de infantes o bendición de los niños pequeños.)

Which is scriptural?

Baptism of Infants/Children

Of the 100 or so times the terms Baptist, baptize, baptized, etc. are used in the New Testament, there is never one time that infants or young children are specifically mentioned as being baptized.

There is no recorded instance that baptism was allowed unless there was some type of repentance or professed belief. The Roman Catholic Church (as well as other churches, like the Eastern Orthodox) understand that, but they changed the practice for infants.

Notice what a Catholic named Jodocus Tiletanus admitted:

We are not satisfied with that which the apostles or the Gospel do declare, but we say that, as well as before as after, there are divers matters of importance and weight accepted and received out of a doctrine which is NOWHERE SET FORTH IN WRITING. For we do blesse the water wherewith we baptize, and the oyle wherewith we annoynt; yea and besides that, him that is christened. And (I pray you) OUT OF WHAT SCRIPTURE have we learned the same? HAVE WE NOT IT OF A SECRET AND UNWRITTEN ORDINANCE? And further what scripture hath taught us to grease with oyle? Yea, I pray you, whence cometh it, that we do dype the child three times in that water? Doth it not come out of this hidden and undisclosed doctrine, which our forefathers have received closely without any curiosity, and do observe it still? (Harvet, Gentianus. Review of Epistles, PP. 19B, 20A, London 1598, as quoted by Hislop, A in The Two Bablyons, emphasis mine).

Hence it is known that infant baptism is not from scripture and that somehow it entered Catholicism from a ‘secret’ ordinance. Furthermore, the Catholic Church itself teaches the following about baptism:

Baptismal Vows The name popularly given to the renunciations required of an adult candidate for baptism just before the sacrament is conferred. In the case of infant baptism, they are made in the name of the child by the sponsors (Delany J.F. Transcribed by Janet Grayson. Baptismal Vows. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 398).

However, since a baby cannot repent nor confess belief in Christ, any statement by an adult sponsor cannot be imputed to the baby. That is one of the most important reasons why infant baptism is not appropriate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church sort of even admits that when it states:

1231…By its very nature infant baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth…

1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism…

1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents help is important. So too, is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized–child or adult–on the road to the Christian life. There task is a truluy ecclesial function (officium) (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, pp. 342,351).

What is a required post-baptismal catechumenate? The statement does not make logical sense (as the dictionary definition of catechumenate does not seem to mean “godparents”, it seems to mean one new to the faith instead, which is about the same definition of a catechumen). More importantly, an infant does not have any faith to begin with, hence cannot have the faith that grows after baptism. An infant is incapable of repentance and no one can repent for someone else (the Bible, in Philippians 2:12 teaches, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”).

In addition, there is nothing in the entire Bible that suggests that any “godparents” are assigned to either children or adults after baptism (there also is no example of infant baptism in the entire Bible). How can “the role of the godfather and godmother” be an important and ecclesial function if it is not even mentioned in the Bible? It is also not mentioned in any early Christian writings.

Interestingly, Irenaeus says that the Valentinians had heretical views regarding baptism:

But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned. And this they maintain to be the redemption (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book 1, Chapter 21, Verse 4).

Yet is this not close to what is done today within Roman Catholicism, as well as other groups, that practice infant baptism?

Blessing of Little Children is Scriptural

On the other hand, the Bible does enjoin the fact that infants/toddlers can be prayed for and blest. Notice what Jesus said and did:

14 “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them (Mark 10:14-16).

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13-15)

It is likely that the worldly churches, who had read the accounts in the gospels and perhaps heard of it performed in the early COG, may have used that as part of their justification.

In fact, when I researched this further, I found that the Catholic Church does refer to this passage in Luke 18 & Matthew 19 as part of its justification for infant baptism (see article Baptism in The Catholic Encyclopedia). But sadly, they are confusing a blessing ceremony with baptism.

None of the children that Jesus laid hands on are recorded to have been immersed into water or sprinkled with water prior to Jesus blessing them (which is part of why I thought I should list all the accounts in the gospels on this).

Hence what Jesus did WAS NOT a form of infant baptism, but instead a ceremony that is retained by relatively few today, like those of us in the Continuing Church of God (you can also watch that ceremony The Blessing of Little Children Ceremony). But oddly, those groups that embrace infant baptism do not seem to have kept this.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Blessing of Children or Infant Baptism? Which does the Bible endorse? A video of related interest is available: The Blessing of Little Children Ceremony.
Baptism, the Early Church, and the Continuing Church Was it by immersion? Did it include infants? Does Polycarp prove infant baptism? Here is a link to some information in the Spanish language: Bautismo de infantes o bendición de los niños pequeños. A related sermon video is titled Baptism: What is it and how should it be done?
Did Real Christians Practice Nude Baptism? This is not a joke. Find out what was taught in the second and later centuries.
Just What Do You Mean — Repentance? Do you know what repentance is? Have you truly repented? Repented of what? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Real Conversion Many think that they are converted Christians. But are they? Would you like to know more about conversion.
False Conversion Have you really been converted? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this article on this important subject.
All About Water Baptism What is baptism? Would you like to know more about it. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject. As far as early history, see also Baptism and the Early Church.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Halloween is not a biblical holiday

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Halloween in Ireland

COGwriter

Many will be observing “Halloween” at the end of this month. Many consider that it is a holiday appropriate for “Christians.”

One article at the mislabeled Christianity Today started out with the statement, “I love Halloween” (Mendenhall D. A Halloween Solution. Christianity Today, October 31, 2005. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/novemberweb-only/13.0.html).

But the origins of today’s Halloween are not biblical.

Do Halloween and Christianity belong together?

Halloween is an old English word which means ” hallowed evening.” It is the night before the Roman Catholic holiday that they claim to have adopted from the Eastern Orthodox now called All Saints Day (which in Mexico is celebrated as “the Day of the Dead”). Part of the public Catholic rationale for All Saints Day is that they have so many saints they wish to honor that they decided to lump all those without a specific day into this one. While some Catholics support Halloween, others oppose it.

Origins

It is believed that Halloween contains many of the remnants of an autumn holiday celebrated by the Druids called Samhain (apparently pronounced “sah-van” though some say SAH win or SOW in–and apparently meaning “summers end”). There historically have been pagan figures with names that are similar to this. For example, there was a Celtic hero named Samain or Sawan who supposedly owned a magical cow. In other pagan religions, there was Samana (“the leveler”) the name of an Aryan God of Death (a.k.a. Yama, Sradhadeva, Antaka, or Kritanta) according to the ancient Veda scriptures of Hinduism and Shamash was the Sun God of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Some of the ideas for modern costumes came via France.

Essentially, the timing of Halloween seems to be related to certain movements of the sun. Notice the following:

Halloween is date of astronomical interest. It has to do with seasons: Halloween is a cross-quarter date, approximately midway between an equinox and a solstice. There are four cross-quarter dates throughout the year, and each is a minor holiday: Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd), May Day (May 1st), Lammas Day (Aug. 1st), and Halloween (Oct. 31st).

“Long ago, the Celts of the British Isles used cross-quarter days to mark the beginnings of seasons. Winter began with Halloween, or as they called it, Samhain,” says John Mosley of the Griffith Observatory.

“Halloween marked the transition between summer and winter, light and dark — and life and death. On that one night, according to folklore, those who had died during the previous year returned for a final visit to their former homes. People set out food and lit fires to aid them on their journey — but remained on guard for mischief the spirits might do.” (Spooky Astronomy. http://spaceweather.com/ present 10/31/07).

Notice that in Asia, versions of this day, somewhat like the Celts and the pre-Hispanic Mexicans, are celebrated near the first of August:

Japan has its own Halloween-type celebration known as “O-bon,” an old Buddhist holiday meant to honor ancestors. It takes place in mid-August or July. Graves are visited and cleaned, food offerings are made, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide spirits, and a ritualized dance called “bon-odori” takes place to welcome them. On the last day of O-bon, to guide spirits on their journey, the Japanese partake in a ceremony called “Toro nagashi,” in which paper lanterns are floated down a river.

O-bon originates from the Chinese Buddhist celebration of “Ullambana,” which has the same notion that during this time, spirits are able to move among us.

The Ullambana Sutra, a traditionally Indian story, is the scripture that addresses this day, with the story of Mahamaudgalyayana, a disciple of Buddha, whose mother had been reborn into a lower realm. Though interpretations of the story vary, Buddha’s instructions to his student mirror modern practices of the day, which is to offer food and pray for the souls of both living and dead relatives. People also would give donations to monks.

The current celebration in Taiwan and China of the Ghost Festival pays homage to this Buddhist holiday, but includes the practices of burning money, clothes and goods, which are believed to then make it to the spirit world in full, as well as the release of paper boats and lanterns into rivers (Meaning, sanctity of Halloween is lost in translation St. Cloud Times, MN – Oct 21, 2007 http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071021/OPINION/110210041/1006/NEWS01).

Hence, the foundations of Halloween are not only Western, and certainly not of Christian origin.

Satan has successfully gotten many of his holidays endorsed by many cultures and religions of the world.

Druids and Bone Fires

Growing up I was familiar with bonfires, and simply thought that they were warm and provided light. But later I learned that their origins were related to Halloween.

Notice that:

The Druids, and order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out to harm people. They thought the cat was sacred and believed that cats had once been human beings but were changed for punishment for their evil deeds. From these Druid beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween festivities…The custom of using leaves, pumpkins, and corn stalks as Halloween decorations comes from the Druids. The early peoples of Europe also had a festival similar to the Druid holiday…In the 700s, the Roman Catholic Church named November 1 as All Saints’ Day. The old pagan customs and the Christian feast day were combined into the Halloween festival [Halloween. World Book, vol 9. Chicago, 1966: 25-26].

The origins of Halloween specifically can be traced back to the ancient Celts (who lived in what is now known as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern France) and their Druid priests. The end of October commemerated their festival of the waning year…Druids believed that during this season spirits walked, and evil held power over the souls of men. On October 31, their New Year’s Eve, great bonfires were kindled, which were thought to simulate the sun to procure blessings for the entire succeeding year. The fires remained burning as a means to frighten away evil spirits. The Druids held these early Halloween celebrations in honor of Samhain, also known as Lord of the Dead, whose festival fell on November 1. There bonfires, or “bone fires”, were also used in animal and human sacrifice–thus the name. The tradition of lighting a bonfire has continued to modern times (Coulter F.R. Occult Holiday–or–God’s Holy Days–Which? York Publishing Company, Hollister (CA) 2006).

bonfire…late M.E. bone fire, i.e. a fire with bones for fuel (Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. Gramercy Books, New York. 1989, p. 168).

Growing up, no one I knew ever mentioned that bonfires originally were bone fires.

Jack-O-Lanterns

The origin of jack-o-lanterns is somewhat amusing.

The Irish have a story that a man named Jack died who was too much of a miser to be with God and was not allowed to be with the devil since he had played practical jokes on him. Since Jack had nowhere to go, he was to walk the earth carrying a lantern until Judgment Day. There are other ideas about this as well–but none come from the Bible.

The Bible

In Leviticus chapter 23, it lists

“The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts” (vs.2).

All Saints’ Day is not listed as one of them. All Saints’ Day is not a biblically enjoined feast day for Christians (there is not any hint of it in the Bible; it may even be warned against in Deut 4:15-24). Actually the Bible warns against worshipping God the way the pagans, etc. did (Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 12:31, Jeremiah 10:2-3).

The Bible repeatedly warns against the practices of witches (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10, Galatians 5:20) and dealing with ghosts/etc. (Deuteronomy 18:11, I Chronicles 10:13).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? Here are some historical and biblical insight on this question. There are many cultures that have celebrations and observances that are similar to some associated with Halloween. What did the Druids do? Is Halloween one of the most important holidays for Satanists? Do the Japanese, Indians, and Chinese have any practices that are similar to some associated with Halloween? Does the Bible endorse or condemn practices that are associated with Halloween? Here are links to two related sermonette length videos: Halloween: Are there 7 reasons for Christians to celebrate it? and International ‘Halloween’ Should Christians observe Halloween?
All Saints’ Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls’ Day When did “All Saints Day” and the “Day of the Dead” begin? “What about All Soul’s Day”?
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?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean?
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。.